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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trekking Ba Den mountain

Ba Den mountain from Dau Tieng lake
(from nonghuyenson)

Black Virgin Mountain ("Black Lady Mountain") is a mountain in the Tay Ninh Province of Vietnam. To the Vietnamese the mountain is the center of a myth about Ba Den, a Vietnamese woman. After the Vietnam war the mountain turned from a battle ground to being famous for the its beautiful temples and theme park. There are trails to hike up the mountain but many people take the Núi Bà Đen gondola lift to the top.

Ba Den pagoda - Linh Son Thanh Mau tu

Ba Den pagoda - Linh Son Thanh Mau tu

At 996 metres (3,268 ft), the extinct volcano rises from the flat Mekong Delta jungle and farmland. The mountain is almost a perfect cinder cone with a saddle and a slight bulge on her Northwest side. The mountain is honeycombed with caves and is covered in many large basalt boulders.

gondola lift  Bà Đen

Here're our the trip on Sept 24, 2011:
- Distance: Ho Chi Minh city - Tay Ninh town - Ba Den moutain: 100km
- Duration: 3h (by moto-bike 50km/h)
- Route: (on google map: here)
  • Etown building 364 Cong Hoa str - Truong Chinh str - Road 22 - Trang Bang town: 40km
  • Trang Bang town - Go Dau town: 14km
  • Go Dau town - Road 22B - Hoa Thanh town: 30km
  • Pham Hung str - Ly Thuong Kiet str - Cach Mang Thang 8 str - Dien Bien Phu str - Boi Loi - Ba Den mountain: 15km.
- Places:
  • Trang Bang town to take breakfast/dinner
  • Cao Dai Greate temple
  • Ba Den moutain
- Plan:
  • 7:00  AM: All members group at 5th gate on Ap Bac str. Start the trip.
  • 8:30  AM: Arrive at Trang Bang town, take breakfast.
  • 10:00AM: Arrive at Toa Thanh Tay Ninh (Cao Dai Greate temple) at the corner of Ly Thuong Kiet str and Cach Mang Thang 8 str.
  • 11:30AM: Arrive at Ba Den mountain, take lunch
  • 12:30PM: Start climbing to Ba Den pagoda, have Buddhist ceremony.
  • 16:00PM: Going back to Ho Chi Minh city.
  • 18:00PM: Arrive at Trang Bang to take dinner.
  • 20:00PM: Arrive at Etown. Complete the trip.
- Members: 9 persons.
- Food:
  • Mayonnaise (1bottle): 30k
  • Chili sauce (1bottle): 12k
  • Chả (0.5kg): 65k
  • Giò thủ (0.5kg): 55k
  • Sandwich (3bags): 45k
  • Cheese (2 boxes): 60k
  • Cucumber (4 fruits): 12k
  • Water (6 x 1.5 litre - bottle): 50k
  • Fruits (1.5kg plum-tree + 1.5kg mango): 50k
  • Ticket for Ba Den resort (9tickets): 90k
  • Tay Ninh shrimp salt: 25k
  • Breakfast: 176k
  • Dinner: 607k
- Cost: Total: 1.259.000VND ~ 60.5USD (excluding gasoline for 5 moto-bikes).

As plan, all members must attend at Gate 5th of Etown building before 7:00. However, up to 7:30 the trip can be started because of Chau's lateness. 5 iron-horses run smoothly when suddenly Tram's one is holed in the back wheel tube. Team must wait for replacing new tube about 30 minutes. :(

Everyone then continues to go to the first place - Trang Bang town. Along the way, there are many calls between members because they don't know the road well or they run very fast although leader reminds  these before starting. Conversations always like: "Where are you?", "We've just passed the bridge/crossroads.", "Ok, stay there and wait for us".

At 9:30 we arrive at Trang Bang, get into a mini restaurant roadside to have breakfast. Outside, it's lasting rain.

10:00 continuing the trip, suddenly, another horse stops. The driver almost walks with his iron-horse to find the garage. Phew, after 1 hour waiting for preparing it, the team goes on. Everyone seems discouraged hihi. There's an idea that missing the Cao Dai temple to direct to Ba Den mountain in time because it's late but others want to see the temple. Ok, no problem, let's go!!! Trip for relax! Trip for fun!

Toà Thánh Tây Ninh or Cao Dai Greate Temple (Holy See). Cao Dai, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ (Great Religion [of The] Third Period [of] Revelation [and] Salvation) - a religion found only in southern Vietnam that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism.
The major saints are Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen, the 19c French writer Victor Hugo and the 16c Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binh Khiem. Lesser dignitaries who have manifested themselves in seances include notables such as Joan of Arc, Descartes, V. I. Lenin, William Shakespeare, and Winston Churchill. The Great Temple or Holy See, the center of the intriguing Cao Đài sect. Cao Đài is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism. Like Muslims the they pray periodically throughout the day.
The temple is colourful, a blend of different styles of architecture. It was begun in 1933 in a unique architectural style that reflects its blended traditions. It is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Ho Chi Minh City so that most people visit on a day trip.

Males must enter on the right and females to the left and shoes have to be removed before entering the massive main hall. Once you step into the temple, you seem to be removed from the hassle and bustle of the outside world and placed into a world of calmness, peace and light.

(by Luc D)

Services are held four times a day and visitors are welcomed to watch from the balcony above which runs the entire length of the cathedral. Rows and rows of gracefully attired devotees dressed in white stroll into the hall systematically, accompanied by the sounds of the gong. As if on cue, once inside the hall, the devotees kneel down together before the altar signaling the start of the prayers. The priests are easily identified by their white pointy hats decorated with the holy eye and are dressed in either red, blue or yellow flowing robes. The gongs are now joined in by the string instruments and harmonious chanting of the devotees. Photography is allowed here and is an excellent opportunity not to be missed as you will never find another moment like this anywhere else.

Our iron-horses:

It takes about 30 minutes to see the temple. And now, Ba Den mountain!!!!
Boi Loi street to the mountain:

Finally we get to Ba Den moutain after 5 hours from Etown. Some members lead the motor-bikes for the guard, others ask someone how to climb to the top of the moutain. Unfortunately, everyone should not do this because it's often rain, the trip becomes very dangerous. No other ways, the team have to delay the climbing to the dry season. Ba Den pagoda becomes the last destination.

The park at the bottom of the mountain:

Time runs, people get hungry, someone moans :D. Okie, let find somewhere in the park to eat prepared food in order to hike to the pagoda. It's 1:30.

15:00, everyone's full. LET'S GO BABIES!!!! One step, one step, another step, next step,... First tent, second tent.... last tent (10th).

Almost 30 degree slope - the last slope to the pagoda:

View of slope from its top:

The mountain with the cloud at the top:

The Southeastern delta view from the half-way to the pagoda:

Dau Tieng lake on the horizontal line:

This is our destination - pagoda. 2 members come into the cathedral to pray to Ba while others take rest beside.

18:30, we arrive at the bottom of the moutain. Starting the return.
20:30, we arrive at Hoang Minh restaurant in Trang Bang town to have dinner include: bánh tráng phơi sương cuốn thịt luộc, bánh canh giò heo. yum yum. What a beautiful life!!!!

22:15, we arrive at Etown, finish the joy and safe trip. See everyone the next trip in the spring - 2 days 1 night: Dau Tieng lake, climbing to the top of Ba Den moutain, Cao Dai Greate temple.

Some other trips:
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