Two days traveling through two primeval forests in Tay Giang
QUANG NAM – Has climbed mountains and forests many times, but for Trung Kien, these are the first two forests that give him the feeling of returning to the original.
Tran Trung Kien (45 years old, Hanoi) is a kayak and adventure tour guide. Kien loves to explore, and always feels the freest when being near nature.
Two years ago, Kien knew about Tay Giang (Quang Nam) through a friend’s story. Excited about the primeval iron and pomelo forests, but when he learned from many sources, he did not receive any specific information. One day at the end of August, Kien decided to choose Tay Giang as a summer trekking destination, to satisfy his curiosity.
“When choosing Tay Giang, I just visualized the scene through pictures and reduced my expectations by 20-30%,” Kien said.
A waterproof backpack containing several sets of clothes, trekking gear including a sleeping bag, flashlight, lighter, raincoat, compass, first aid bag… a set of cameras and spirit ready to face the challenge is all that Kien prepared for this trip. On August 9, with the mind of “knowing nothing”, Kien and three friends started the journey. He flew from Hanoi to Da Nang, then from Da Nang moved by car to Tay Giang, about 3 hours with a distance of 150 km.
Tay Giang welcomed Kien with a small rain, it was dark with scattered Gol houses, highlighting the wildness of this land. With 70% of the area covered by forest, of which 50% is primary forest, Google Maps is almost of no help. According to Kien, the most difficult thing is to imagine how the points are located on the map to arrange a specific route.
After going to the town’s only guesthouse to get a room, Kien’s group had to ask for help from the local government. He met Plenh, an officer of the Tay Giang District Cultural Office. “Plenh is a Co Tu ethnic and is a person who is very enthusiastic about sustainable tourism development associated with the conservation of nature and local culture. The first day in Tay Giang, we completed the planned route to across the forest in the next two days,” Kien said.
On the morning of the second day in Tay Giang, Phenh began the journey by plucking a leaf and then placing a stone on it to pray to the forest god for good weather so that the group could have a successful trip. Phenh told the Co Tu people that trees, rivers, streams, and animals all have souls and that each forest has a forest god in charge, so before going to the forest to do anything, they pray to the forest god for permission.
Kien’s group rode a motorbike to the top of Que and then went to Lang commune to start trekking through the po mu forest. This forest is located at an altitude of 1,600 m above sea level, owns more than 1,200 po mu trees, of which 715 trees are from 300 to 1,000 years old, which have been declared as heritage trees.
“The rangers accompanying the group brought a bag of sticky rice with a packet of fried dried fish for lunch. Besides having a full breakfast, we didn’t prepare much because this route was not too challenging,” Kien said.
Every step into the forest is a time when Kien is surprised with the ecosystem here. The old po mu trees are tall, the trunks of 2-3 people hug and are covered with a layer of green moss. The special thing here is that there is almost no human impact.
It takes almost a day to explore all of the primeval forest. To keep the strength for the trek the next day, Kien and the group chose to sleep in the village at the edge of the forest instead of camping in the forest. Here, Kien can live like a native Co Tu, understand more about the culture and lifestyle of the people.
The next morning, the group woke up early to prepare for the next trek to the ancient ironwood forest on the top of Di Lieng. This leg is forecasted to be more difficult than the previous one, so Kien asked two locals, Mr. Luc and village elder, Clau Nuoc to guide the way. When they arrived, each person brought a pack of sticky rice and a net. Along the trek down the stream to the Lang River, wherever there is deep water, Luc hugs his net and dives to catch fish. After 3 hours of trekking, the group went to the ancient Lim forest on the mountain, then carried a heavy bag with 3-4 different types of fish, both large and small.
“We stopped for lunch at the shack of the people who went to grow ironwood in the mountains. Lunch had sticky rice with fish mixed with wild vegetables cooked in tube Giang, grilled fish, steamed fish in tube Giang. Everything is from the forest and in the forest. “, Kien said.
After crossing dozens of streams to enter the deep forest, Kien’s group first saw the green reishi mushroom. The mushrooms have crowns about 20 cm wide, fan-shaped openings. According to village elder Clau Nuoc, this fungus is precious because it only grows on dead Lim tree trunks, when each iron tree is cut down, it leaves a root or is broken.
The weather on the mountain is getting colder and colder, the wind is strong, the path is steep and slippery because moss covers the stump. But the paradise on the top of K’lang has entertained those who like to conquer with 450 hectares of rhododendrons over 100 years old that have not been affected by humans. The azaleas here have all colors from white, white to pink, purple, and red. If you come here in the right flower blooming season, you will feel like seeing the colorful brocade shirt of the Co Tu people.
The elder Clau Waterh pointed to an azalea flower to introduce each part of the flower in detail, but he definitely did not pick the flower down. The people here depend on the forest but only get from the forest what they need and just enough for their daily lives. They participate in forest protection by setting up self-governing organizations, appointing young people to guard, not allowing outsiders to enter, anyone who destroys the forest will be severely punished according to the law and village rules.
“They consider the forest as their own life, because if the forest remains, the people who lose the forest will also lose the Co Tu people,” Kien recounted the village elder’s words.
As soon as the sun went down the mountain, Kien’s group finished their two-day journey through the forest. The feeling of being both satisfied when having answered questions about the land of Tay Giang by yourself, and proud of winning over yourself and admiring the beauty of the deep forest that not everyone has the opportunity to see.
Kien said, the Co Tu people are happy because they find the connection between humans and nature, just as he feels happy after every journey across streams and forests, letting the trees protect him.
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