A trail through Ba Na forest

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A view of Ba Na Mountain's surroundings from the mountain's top. Situated 46 kilometers southwest of the central city of Da Nang, Ba Na is home to a resort area and a primeval forest / PHOTO: TUAN ANH

Ba Na Mountain, 46 kilometers southwest of Da Nang, was once home to a resort area that French colonialists built in 1901 for high-ranking civil servants and military officials.

The area consisted of more than 200 French-styled villas, hotels, market, opera house, and stadium, but most of them were destroyed after the 1945 August Revolution that forced the French to withdraw from Vietnam.

Even though the remains of the former luxury resort are now just small paved paths, moss-covered walls, or ruins of fireplaces, they are still enough to lure tourists, especially those with an interest in history.

That a new resort area with an array of luxury hotels, entertainment sites and shopping malls has been developed over the years at a height of 1,489 meters above the sea simply fuels the draw even more.

I too was attracted by Ba Na for the same reason, but after many visits there, I have found out more ways to discover and enjoy it.

In fact, during my latest trip, I followed a local tour guide named Phuong on a hike along a trail from the Morin Hotel, where I stayed, through the forest to visit some old villas and an orchid garden. The walk ended at the Ba Na By Night Hotel.

The trip covered 800-meter trek and took me just around one hour to finish, but it was full of feeling and discovery.

When we set out, it was just past midday and the sun still shone bright, but I did not feel the heat. It was because as soon as we entered the forest through a narrow path, we were covered by thick canopy of pine trees.

However, going under the shade of canopies, at some point, we were misled into believing that it was going to rain and turn dark soon, so we all walked in hurry. But, not long after that, when a thin canopy revealed some sunlight, we quickly returned to our leisurely speed, continuing enjoying what were surrounding us.

We stopped at the relic of an old villa that was said to belong to a French military officer.

Although there was not much left, stone steps, a part of a playground, ruins of walls, and a fireplace that were all covered with mosses were enough to make a background for our photos.

According to Phuong, the villa was among three buildings that once existed at the site, but two others were almost gone. 

We then left the villa, and continued trailing through the forest, spotting lots of hortensia flowers in full blossom on the way. Soon we arrived at an orchid garden where various kinds of the plant were grown.

Ba Na By Night a resort built with French architecture was our last destination.

According to Phuong, at the moment five forest trekking tours are being operated in Ba Na.

One of them is three-kilometer-long and ends at the Vang (gold) Valley, where tourists can visit old gold mining sites and learn about the life of gold miners that lived many decades ago, he said.

The tour guide also said that the trail goes through many beautiful and "romantic" streams, waterfalls and flowers.

All his promising descriptions enticed me to plan yet another visit to Ba Na in the near future.

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