Behind a mountain screen, a secluded gem sparkles

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF TUOI TRE
Sunrise on Lá»™ Diêu Beach in Hoai Nhon District, Binh Dinh Province

Located in Binh Dinh Province's Hoai Nhon District, Lá»™ Diêu Village is mostly surrounded by high mountains, except the sea on its "front side."

In the past, it was often likened to a sleeping beauty waiting to be awakened by brave souls who were willing to get across an extremely high and steep mountain pass, also named Lá»™ Diêu, to reach it. 

It is said that to catch a bus and get to the district's center, locals used to have to get up at 2 a.m. and walk for four hours to reach the bus station situated at the end of the pass.

Now, everything is "very easy," with the DT 369 road that runs through Hoai My Commune. It takes only around 20 minutes on a motorbike to cover the 15 kilometers from Bong Son, capital town of Hoai Nhon.

Those wanting to enjoy a sense of adventure should take on the 25-kilometer route from Thi Nai Bridge in Quy Nhon Town and go through coastal mountain passes. They will be rewarded magnificent views of the sea and the sky at the end of the route.

People who chose the tough journey to Lá»™ Diêu say that the village, looked at from a height, is like a bow with sea waves as its string.

But the day I visited it, it looked more like the footprint of a giant horse coming from the sea, or a big umbrella that someone had left behind. Maybe it was the height had made me light-headed.

Besides the wild and clean sandy beach named Bang Bang, Lá»™ Diêu has a rocky reef covered with green moss. Under the sunlight, especially when the day just starts, the green looks silky and so captivating that no one can stop taking photographs until their cameras' memory cards run out of space.

This beautiful scene only shows up during low tides at the beginning or in the middle of the month.

Lá»™ Diêu was not widely known among travelers until some five years ago, so its natural beauty has not yet been spoilt by resorts.

This does not stop many visitors, including me, from camping on the beach at night with the hope to have a good view of the sunrise at sea early next morning.

"˜Treat from the sea'

With most of the local residents living on fishing, Lá»™ Diêu starts its day very early.

At around 3 a.m., I saw roughly 100 coracles and small boats head to the sea, rowed by men and women.  They were willing to take visitors who want to catch the very first rays of the much awaited sunrise.

I got on the boat of Pham Thi Muon, who enthusiastically showed me everything from corals to seaweed, many kinds of fish, and even how to catch them. 

 GETTING THERE

From Ho Chi Minh City, take a train to Quy Nhon Town, Binh Dinh Province.

Get off at Dieu Tri Station and head to Bong Son Town, Hoai Nhon District. It's ok to take a taxi there, but the best option is to take a bus. There's a bus every 10 minutes. The bus station is located on National Road 1, around one kilometer from Dieu Tri.

From Bong Son, take a taxi or motorbike to Lá»™ Diêu.

Without missing any catch, she talked continuously in a very loud voice a habit that she attributed to the fact that she spends most of her time literally on noisy waves to earn living.

I was amazed at the vastness of the sea and her detailed instructions about its inhabitants. But, I did not forget my main objective: taking photos of the sunrise at sea. When I turned my back to look at Lá»™ Diêu, the beach was already livelier with the presence of fishermen who were casting their nests.

Finishing her work, Muon rowed the boat back to the beach, where many others were anchoring and forming a market to sell what they had just caught fish, prawns, clams and snails.  Everything was fresh and reasonably priced.

I would advise visitors not to miss trying sea urchins, a specialty of Lá»™ Diêu. These are grilled or cooked with porridge both delicious and healthy.

When Muon handed me a fish, I asked her how much it cost. But she said, smiling: "A gift for the tourist to have fun at a drinking party. It's a treat from the sea."

After roughly one hour, the market ended.

The beach became quiet and empty again, except for boats beached in an orderly fashion, inspiring tourists to switch on their cameras to catch yet another beautiful view of the secluded village before leaving.

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