Lake of lost love

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Many Vietnamese know the famous song "Huyen thoai Ho Nui Coc" (Legend of Coc Mountain Lake).

It tells the story of a young man, Coc, who fell deeply in love with Cong, a rich girl. But Cong's family didn't approve of her love for a poor boy, so the young couple eloped to the rural areas of what is now Thai Nguyen Province in the northern mountains.

Sadly, Cong's family followed them and took Cong back. Coc died of a broken heart and his love was so strong that he became a mountain, now known as Coc Mountain. Then Cong cried so long and hard that her tears formed the nearby Cong River, where she also died.

In the 1980s, an artificial reservoir was built at the site 15km from the heart of the town of Thai Nguyen. The 25-kilometer lake is now the area's most beautiful tourist attraction, with nearly 90 islands spread over its clear waters. The islands and surrounding area boast lush eucalyptus forests and wild storks.

The lake is located in Dai Tu District's Tan Thai Commune, 90km from Hanoi. From the capital, take National Highway 3 to Thai Nguyen Town where a small road leads through Thai Nguyen's famous tea plantations to the lake.

Driving down the road at the southern end of Ho Nui Coc, you can feel the stillness of the night and listen to the crickets' songs.

Villas and stilt houses on the northern side of the lake offer rooms for visitors. Boats big enough for 30-40 people can be hired to cruise the lake and visit Cai Island, where more than 2,000 artifacts from various ethnic minorities are on display.

You can also rent a canoe to watch the sun rise or set over the lake. Canoeing is also the perfect way to explore the lake's many deserted islands.

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