The Ban Vat Waterfall
Every one shook his or her head as we asked for direction to the Dai Yem Waterfall.
We were in high spirits because the way from Hanoi to northwestern province of Son La had taken us through incredible scenery, and the wind and the fog on the hilly road added to the allure of the place, but this head-shaking was beginning to create some anxiety.
Had we lost our way? We also tried the "Nang Waterfall" on our prospective guides, another name mentioned in the travel forums, but we drew a blank from the locals. We had traveled nearly 200 kilometers to get here, and after half-a-day of asking the locals, we were considering the possibility that we would have to go back without getting to our destination.
Thankfully, we stumbled on the correct name in time. Unlike the Kinh people in the lowlands who had other names for it, in the land of the ethnic Thai people, the waterfall was called either Ban Vat or Thai Hung (meaning "the land for people to settle down").
The waterfall is perfectly set amidst quiet, tall, dense trees.
The sound of the waterfall, mingled with those of the birds and monkeys not only gave us the feeling we were in the loving embrace of a primitive forest, but also that we were in a place that would give us its energy.
During the rainy season (between April and September), the 70-meter-wide waterfall is particularly impressive, like the Pongour Waterfall in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.
Ban Vat, or Dai Yem, Waterfall is located in Muong Sang Commune, Moc Chau District, Son La Province.
On the way to Ban Vat Waterfall
Below the Ban Vat Waterfall is a smaller one which pours down from a height of 50 meters to rocky slopes underneath, and on the top of this waterfall, a diverse layer of trees and flowers can be seen. From the top of this waterfall, I could see the hoa ban (an endemic flower of the northwestern region) in bloom and the green plum trees on the faraway hills.
As our one-day trip drew to a close, our motorbikes glided past the small path in the cold wind, and white clouds covered the whole town.
Green luxuriant trees stood on either sides of the road and there was a lovely scene that we carried as a farewell gift - an ethnic minority girl sitting on a rock on the roadside, with her buffalo leisurely grazing not far away from her.
We saw beautiful tile-roofed houses of the ethnic minority residents on the way, the bushy yellow cai flowers growing in front of their houses bordered by stone fences.