Story: Huynh Phuong
Photos: Vu Hoa, Thu Phan
Enjoy a green getaway at Tri An Lake
If you are looking for an eco-tourism destination this summer, you should visit Tri An Lake during its green algae season. This lake is located at Ben Nom 2 Hamlet, Phu Cuong Commune, Dinh Quan District, Dong Nai Province.
This manmade lake was completed in early 1987. Covering an area of 323km2, it serves as a reservoir for the Tri An Hydropower Plant. It lies in the course of the Dong Nai River and spans multiple districts, namely Vinh Cuu, Dinh Quan, Thong Nhat, and Trang Bom. Each area around Tri An Lake has its own charm, where visitors can enjoy bicycling, camping, kayaking, fishing, and photography at dawn and dusk. Within the area lies Ben Nom 2 Hamlet, a must-visit tourist spot known for its natural beauty and bustling local life during the green algae season. You can reach this hamlet from the Dau Giay intersection in Dong Nai by driving about 20km along National Route 20 toward Dalat.
A painting of soil and algae
The algae flourishes during the low water season from July to October when sandbanks gradually emerge, offering interesting spots for photographers. The algae can cover thousands of meters of the lake’s surface, and its hues change depending on the intensity of the sun. In scorching heat, the algae blooms into a dark green layer that’s 0.5 to 2-centimeters-thick. Rows of boats moored on the brown shoreline stand in sharp contrast to the green algae, making for stunning images when viewed from above. Photographers can also snap some amazing shots of sparkling dewdrops on the newly sprouted grass.
The fishing life at Ben Nom 2
Phu Cuong is the only commune located in the delta area of Dinh Quan District, with 90 percent of its residents being Vietnamese-Cambodian. Generations of families in the Southwest region have lived off the fish resources in Tri An Lake, where they take full advantage of the low water season to earn their livelihood. In addition to fishing cages and nets, the sight of fishing boats cutting through a sea of green algae is probably the most iconic image associated with Ben Nom 2. The locals’ special boats have a fishtail-shaped net at the bow to help round up swarms of fish. Fishermen set sail and bait fish with light sources after the sun goes down, while merchants wait for them on the shore at the break of day. The main specialty is the wrestling halfbeak that can be braised with ginger, stir-fried with tomato sauce, fried with lemongrass, or sun-dried. Other catches include shrimp, catfish, snakeheads, tilapias, grass carps, and barbs.
The low water season also supports people who herd buffaloes and ducks on the green banks. One local fisherman said he had been living with algae for so long that he was no longer bothered by the rancid smell. The locals buy fresh water for daily use instead of using the lake water. Algae is the natural food source for aquatic animals and fish stocks that disappear from October to December when the water level rises. Therefore, the seasonal algae dictates the local fishermen’s lives.
Aside from Ben Nom 2, there are several other perfect venues around Tri An Lake for tourists to picnic and escape the summer heat, including Ma Da Forest, Tri An Falls, Nam Bau Island, O – Dong Truong Island, and Xa Cu Islet.