For as long as I can re-member, I’ve been se-duced by a sweet song that tells the Legend of Nui Coc Lake in the northern province of Thai Nguyen. Many people like me know it by heart and dream of travelling to the lake which, as the legend goes, is made of the tears of a girl who cannot marry the man she loves.
I decided to finally make my dream a reality by hopping on my motorbike to visit the lake with some friends.
The dream started on my way to Thai Nguyen, 80km from Ha noi as I was greeted by immense emerald rice fields. The 18km of windy roads from Thai Nguyen City’s centre to Nui Coc Lake are lined by tea-terraced fields on hills, and gentle rivers under a blue sky.
As we passed the bright fields, suddenly the blue of the sky was reflected upon the ground in a dream-like vision. The vision was familiar, however, we had learned of it through a song, and the mystical Nui Coc Lake surprised us with its incredible beauty. The scene was more like a water-colour painting than a real landscape.
What brought the 25sq.m lake back into reality was the large tourism area built next to it.
Generations of Vietnamese can tell you the beautiful but sad love story of a girl named Cong and a man named Coc that relates to the lake.
"One pained person cries and the tears have become a river. One person who spent a life waiting becomes the mountain."
The tragic tale of families tearing a couple apart is like a Vietnamese Romeo and Juliet. Coc’s family is too poor, and the girl’s rich, mandarin family forbids him from marrying her. Their interference only makes the couple more determined to wait for each other. One day, the sound of the flute Coc uses to call for Cong does not reach Cong’s room. Hopeless for his lover, Coc dies of a broken heart.
The fairy in the sky feels pity for him and transforms him into a mountain that stands imposing in the middle of the sky. During all four seasons, the wind blows through the leaves to resound the lover’s flute. The girl, detained in her room, cries for her lover all day and night until one day her body transforms into tears. The tears full of love and loyalty absorb into the soil, and run as currents looking for a way to Coc Mountain. Every year since then, when summer comes, violet sim (violet myrtle flower) flourish on Coc Mountain and on Cong River to remind people of this beautiful love.
The region where this Legend was born is also known as the Tan Cuong region, famous for its perfumed tea in Thai Nguyen. It is said that Cong’s tears are absorbed in the tea plant’s roots, creating a lasting sweet flavour that anyone who tastes can remember it forever.
One of our favourite stops upon arrival was the Huyen Thoai Cung (Palace of Legend) which includes statues made by 50 artisans from Nam Dinh Province. Hopping on a little bamboo boat that runs along the narrow Luoi river in a grotto, a symbol of Cong’s tears, we could live out the legend of Cong-Coc as we passed little statues and scenes that tell the whole story.
Not far from the Palace of Legend was a little zoo with dozens of different animals such as monkeys, crocodiles, pythons and ostriches.
After our stops at the main tourist destinations, we enjoyed the region’s specialties including bamboo rat meat.
A special highlight that shouldn’t be missed is the amazing water music display built to celebrate Thai Nguyen Tourism Year 2007. We were enchanted to see waters from fountains in the lake dance to melodies of the songs.
Getting on the boat
One of the most relaxing moments for me were on the small boat that bobbed along the river. Together, we sang the song about the lake while enjoying the sparkling waters under the sun.
The boat took us to Dao Cai (Cai Island) with a preservation and exhibition area of more than 2,000 objects that present the country’s cultural products of the dynasties that ruled from the Dong Son culture, Sa Huynh to Oc Eo culture of the south.
The lake is home to 89 islands, with some covered in forests, storks, monkeys or goats.
Tourists can camp out on one of the islands and wallow in the pure setting, while fishing on the lake.
I would certainly recommend spending as many days as you can out there. Even having come back to Ha Noi, I’m still dreaming of the love story on the lake.
Tag: Culture, Exhibition, Ha Noi, Tour, Tourism, Tourist, Thai Nguyen, Travel, Vietnam, Vietnamese
The charm of Nui Coc Lake *Related News: