Legends add a distinct sound to waterfalls in the Central Highlands
Rivers and streams in Vietnam tend to flow eastward into the Gulf of Tonkin. There is one, though, that stands out as an exception. The Serepok flows west and drains into the Mekong River.
Springing up from the Central Highlands, it has an entourage of beautiful streams and waterfalls, and many of them come with legends attached.
Dray Sap and the story of an Ede girl
Situated in Dak Nong Province's Krong Ne District where the Ede minority people live, Dray Sap is one of several Central Highlands waterfalls whose origins are steeped in mythology.
Legend has it that a pretty Ede maiden named H'Mi was pursued and proposed to by many wealthy men, but fell in love with a poor, but good-natured man.
One day, a giant monster with scorching eyes descended as H'Mi and her lover who were sitting on a rock and flirting with each other. The monster is said to have taken water from the river into its cavernous mouth and spit it out with force, knocking the young man unconscious and sweeping the girl away.
The grief-stricken man stood rooted in grief, and was transformed into a large tree clinging to a rock. The spot where the young lovers were attacked became a waterfall, the sound of which is the boy's call for his lover and the mist around it, the tears shed by two pining hearts.
Dray Sap means "Smoke Waterfall" in the local Ede minority language. The crashing waterfall has indeed created a mist with a smoky effect. Dray Sap is also called the "Husband Waterfall" commonly known as "Thac Chong" in Vietnamese.
Seen from afar, the three-tier Dray Sap Waterfall is a striking picture against the backdrop of mountains and forests. The water flows especially strongly in the rainy season, when the fall is about 12 meters high and 120 meters wide. In the dry season, the landscape is just as vivid with the white water contrasting perfectly with the vast blue sky.
For visitors, a suspension bridge facing the waterfall offers great photo opportunities.
There are also many hiking trails through the surrounding forest that take travelers through dense foliage to small springs. The area is home to a variety of singing birds that provide soothing musical accompaniment.
Dray Nur and the golden bamboo rat
Not far from Dray Sap is Dray Nur, probably the jewel in the waterfall crown that the region wears with pride.
Dray Nur bisects Dak Nong and Dak Lak provinces. It is considered the most imposing waterfall in the Central Highlands, pouring from a height of over 30 meters and a width of 250 meters.
In the dry seasons one can go past the water into the large cave underneath.
Several auxiliary falls give visitors the option of bathing in the falls and refreshing themselves in body and spirit.
Dray Nur, needless to say, has its own story to tell.
Dray, in Ede language, means waterfall and Nur means bamboo rat.
The story goes that there was a prince named Nur, who enjoyed the scenic landscapes of the area, wandering through the forests. Nur was the son of Yang Ea, king of the water world.
One day, he came across two pretty girls whose father, a chieftain in the region, was killed in a battle with another tribe. Without any support from their family, the two maidens had to go to the forest to search for food to survive.
Moved by their plight, the prince used his magic powers to supply their house with enough food and other necessities
As the days passed, his compassion turned into love and the prince married the girls.
Shortly afterward, the prince left his two wives to return home and see his father, who, unhappy with what his son had done, forbade him to return to the forest.
The son refused and escaped. But he began to miss his father before long even as he lived a happy life with his two wives who were very devoted to him. They stuck by him wherever he went.
One day, the prince turned himself into a golden bamboo rat and dived into the waterfall next to the king's palace.
His wives were sad and parked themselves at the site to wait for their husband to come up.
The waterfall was then named Dray Nur to commemorate the prince.
The Dray Nur waterfall is also known as "Thac Cai" or "Wife Waterfall" in Vietnamese.
From the town of Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam's coffee capital in Dak Lak Province, it takes about an hour to get to the waterfalls by car.