Travel Diary in Central Highlands Dak Nong Province

3:38:42 PM | 24/11/2009

From Nha Trang, we followed Highway 26 westward to Buon Ma Thuot, then took Highway 14 to Gia Nghia with the whole length of over 300 km. When finishing the land of Dak Lak, we hit the Serepok river. Against the general law of flowing to the East, the river heads westward, joins the Mekong river and comes down to the fertile Mekong Delta. The flow of the river makes Dak Nong unique in Vietnam. 
Dak Nong was established in early 2004 and the Serepok river became the border with Dak Lak brotherly province. It is also since then, the six poorest districts of former Dak Lak rise up in socio-economic development. 
Land of  waterfalls Dak Nong is composed of Dak Mil and Dak Nong highlands with altitude of 160 and 1,960 metres respectively. The terrain is descending from Southwest to North. The highlands are the original sources of Krong No and Krong Na rivers (tributaries of Serepok river) and  Dak Tit and Dak Rlap rivers (tributaries of Song Be river). With high terrain, Dak Nong is the land of waterfalls, notably cluster of waterfalls Trinh Nu – Dray Sap – Gia Long. 
Dray Sap is in the middle and some kilometres apart from the other waterfalls. Dray means waterfall and Sap means smoke.  From the height of 30 metres and the width of  some 100 metres, the water falls down resounding to the whole area with the mist covering the neighbouring forest. At the foot of the waterfall, it looks like a giant elephant jumping up. Some one has described it in a verse :” The water flying down, seemingly the milk way falling from the sky”. 
According to the legend of E De ethnic minority, a beautiful girl H’Mia and her lover after cultivating the land from dawn to dark sat by the stream and deep in romance. Suddenly, a monster appeared and broke the waterfall. The romance became a nightmare. The local people still believe that sometimes H’Mia appears with her lover in the mist.  
At Dray Sap, the river turns into a ferocious flow, symbol of an ardent love of the young couple. Further downstream, a waterfall was known after the visit of King Gia Long to the Highlands with Royal Water House and Royal Fire House.  Some hundred years later King Bao Dai visited and named the waterfall Gia Long in honour of the founder of the Kingdom. 
The legend of Highway 14 The cluster of waterfalls Trinh Nu – Dray Sap – Gia Long lies in Cu Lut area with Highway 14 (Ho Chi Minh Highway) heading South to Dak Mil, Dak Song and Gia Nghia. 
At dusk, we arrived at Dak Song, the rain stopped and a rainbow appeared beautifully on Dak Song mountain pass.  In 1960-1975, the  mountain pass witnessed the heaviest bombardments by US Air Force to prevent the supply from the North to South Vietnam. For a long time, people often recalled that passing the area, they still sensed the marching of the troops and the singing of girl volunteers along the pass. 

Now with new Highway 14, the potentials of the Highlands are being tapped. Ethnic nationalities join hands in building their homeland. In a talk with Mr. Hoang Dinh Tuan, Director of Dak Nong Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, he kept complaining on the poor conditions of the road network that prevents tourists to visit the sleeping beauty. For me, Dak Nong remains a land of discovery. 
Song Han