Ma Rung Lu Quan (Ghost Forest Inn) has recently become one of the most favorite destinations for tourists in Da Lat as it impresses visitors with its tranquility, picturesque scenery and good delicacies.
“Why it was named Forest Ghost?” I asked my younger brother, who introduced me the place and told me that I should try to come there at least once to find why it has become famous, especially to adventure lovers.
“Is it a haunted place?” I asked with curiosity.
“You should come there and discover by yourself, and I think you may feel surprised at what you find out there,” my brother said.
Forest Ghost Inn is located deep in the forest, within Da Nghit Village, Lat Commune, Lac Duong District, more than 22 kilometers from Da Lat downtown.
A valley with streams looked from a crossroad called Nga Ba Tinh on the way to the Forest Ghost Inn. Photo: Thu Thuy
It takes about a half an hour to come there by car or more than 45 minutes by motorbike. The route to Forest Ghost Inn is encompassed by unspoiled fascinating scenery.
My brother took me and my family members to the Inn by his seven-seater car. We passed through pine forests and winding roads and reached a three-way crossroads named “Nga Ba Tinh”, which means “The T-junction of Love”.
We got out of the car and took a family picture under a big fine tree with a sign reading “Nga Ba Tinh” attached in the upper part of the tree, before continuing our trip.
A signboard, which reads “Nga Ba Tinh” (T-junction of Love), in the upper part of a pine tree. Photo: Thu Thuy
We later came to a small bridge over a stream and my brother said it is not easy to pass through the section in rainy season as it is submerged in water. But the owner of the Inn has a specialized truck which he uses to pull tourists’ cars or sedans to pass through this section, my brother said. A trailer is also attached in his truck to carry visitors over the flooded section and take them directly to the Inn nearby.
The small concrete bridge looked through from the car. Be careful to pass through the bridge in the rainy season. Photo: Thu Thuy
Driving along a winding road after passing the bridge, we reached the Forest Ghost Inn some five minutes later.
I couldn’t utter any word when I came out of the car as the scenery here is look like a Chinese ink painting picture and I felt I’m dreaming.
In the middle of the place is a big house, designed like an inn. Everything here is made from pine wood taken from cut-off trees when the authorities made way for pulling power lines into this place. The furniture is made from half a large tree trunk, a large wooden plan with a little chisel work.
The main house located in the middle of Forest Ghost Inn campus, where tourist can relax, gossip, surf Internet, while enjoying fruits free. Photo: Thu Thuy
My brother introduced us with the Inn owners – a couple of over 50, Nguyen Thanh Liem and his wife, Trinh, both welcomed us with warm smiles.
Curious and excited about the bizarre and mysterious name ”Forest Ghost” I could not stop me from asking Liem about that. In answer to that question, 54-year-old Liem said “Ma Rung” (Forest Ghost) a nickname that his friends gave him because of his experience and knowledge about the forests in Lam Dong as he loves discovering jungles and remote areas in Lam Dong.
“I know this area very well, like the back of my hand, especially through my trips through several jungles,” said Liem, adding that his love of the nature brought him to a primitive forest in Da Nghit village with an intention to build a house near the stream for a retreat at weekends and a meeting place with his close friends.
He started the construction of a wooden house painted in purple. His house has gradually become popular among travelers who heard about a “purple house” located in an area with picturesque, and tried to come to this place to satisfy their curiosity.
Visitors at the purple house in the Forest Ghost Inn. Photo: Thu Thuy
A cameraman taking pictures of a group of visitors at the purple house. Photo: Thu Thuy
Many of the visitors to this place expressed their wish to spend overnight in such a nice house in the alpine forest. For this reason, the small purple house has become part of the present-day Forest Ghost Inn.
Liem and his wife have later gradually built more houses, a suspension wooden bridge leading to the purple house, planted flowers and vegetables around and developed this area in harmony with the natural streams there.
The bungalows at the Forest Ghost Inn are made of pine wood, smelling the fragrance of pine, all are beautifully decorated and full of coziness, with a little kitchen for cooking to guests’ taste. Looking at them you can see the warmth of the style of Highland stilt houses, but also mixed with the subtle details of French architecture.
The yellow wooden house by the lake in the Forest Ghost Inn. Photo: Thu Thuy
The sound of the babbling stream is often all you can hear when sitting outside the Forest Ghost Inn.
The wooden inn sits behind a blue lake that reflects the clouds overhead and the colorful flowers and green trees that line its banks.
Liem, the owner, and his wife, welcome guests with ripe bananas and persimmons harvested from the gardens out back. The delicious fruit and cool water help one shrug off the exhaustion of the overnight bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat.
The inn can accommodate a maximum of 50 people at a time; however, its owners often turn guests away.
Liem believes that too many spoil the intimate atmosphere here; six, for him, is the ideal number.
The inn’s patrons are mostly families or groups of friends who have booked in advance.
The cost of staying in a bungalow here, with all the comforts of home, is VND1 million (around US$47) per night for a group of six to eight. Walk-in guests can stay in a stilt bungalow for VND100,000/person/night.
Mornings here begin in a cool mist. At dusk, the sun light disappears into the willow, apricot and jacaranda trees planted around the lake. When night falls, the inn shimmers warm golden light across the water. The owner and his guests sit together, around the fiery red stove, barbecuing, sipping liquor.
When the mood strikes him, Liem plays music on his guitar.