Located about 220 km from Hanoi, a trip to Ba Be Lake is far enough for people to find unspoiled nature but near enough for visitors not to spend much effort on the journey.
We came to Bo Lu Hamlet and went straight to the homestay of a Tay ethnic minority family to rest. The host’s daughter studied with major in tourism in a university in the capital city. After she graduated, she returned to her hometown and started a business right in the house where she was born and raised. The wooden house on stilts was renovated to welcome guests. Despite being small it was very clean and tidy, and all the rooms have "views" overlooking the immense lake beside the smooth green grass. In mid-July, it is not hot thanks to the cool breeze blowing from the lake.
At 6am the next morning, the eagerness for the boat trip to explore the lake bed made our group wake up early without setting alarm clocks. We boarded the boat of Tuan, a local farmer and boat driver. The boat gently turns the waves into the lake. On the banks of the lake were the stilt houses of the Tay people hidden under the green colour of the forest.
In the early morning, the mist hovered over the water and lingered on the trees, worthy of the phrase “Elysium and fairy land”. At times, our boat was just like a small dot in the kilometre wide water of mother nature. I suddenly remembered the verses of the late poet Hoang Trung Thong from when he came here: “Thuyen ta luot nhe tren Ba Be/ Tren ca may troi, tren nui xanh/ May trang bong benh troi lang le/ Mai cheo khua bong nui rung rinh” (Our boat glides on Ba Be/ Above the clouds in the sky, the blue mountains/ White clouds float quietly/ The oars sway, the mountain shadows quiver). A few verses were enough to describe the beauty of the lake, like a giant mirror reflecting the sky, clouds, mountains, vastness, and freedom.
Tuan said the lake is made up of three large tributaries, with an area of about 650 hectares and an average depth of 15 to 20 metres. With such characteristics, it was not surprising that the lake has a diverse range of shrimp and fish. When we stopped at Hua Tang Village for lunch, we could not ignore the local specialties of grilled fishes and shrimps. After loading "energy", we continued the journey to visit Puong Cave, Dau Dang Waterfall, An Ma Temple and Tien Pond. Although the trip was not long, the green of Ba Be's sky and water refreshed the souls of travellers like us.