Before the wars, Vietnam was a simple place, our people worked the land & tended their animals. Most Vietnamese couples were introduced to each other by their parents & all was good. Today more & more Vietnamese are adopting the English-Victorian ideas of love & courting, arranging marriages to tie families together are a thing of the past nowadays. So when you see things like paddle-boats in the shape of swans in the middle of every city lake or landmarks with cheesy names like the ‘Valley of Love’ just remember these people are new at all this.
The Thác Tình Yêu (Love Waterfall) walking trail is 2kms along a marked path that for a short bit leads down into a cool valley. Much of the original tropical jungle had been cleared years ago but what’s left is slowly regenerating & pollution is very minimal. Along the path is a cool gold pebble stream barely a trickle in December & a low-level waterfall just before a wooden bridge, up & beyond is the main viewing platform. There is something special about standing at the base of a waterfall, you can't just look at it from afar. Thác Tình Yêu itself is actually quite beautiful with a long flowing spray, the rock face is covered by lush tropical plants from top to bottom. The water’s source is from Mt Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest mountain, naturally the water is freshly clean if considering a swim. We found ourselves sitting around for an hour to enjoy the cool air & shade while mingling over some exotic Asian fruit. Unfortunately, the tranquil environment is almost ruined not by tourists by a huge tacky sign drilled into the rock face bearing the waterfalls name in Vietnamese, I am tempted to use the word ‘hideous’ here. It is completely dumfounding. I threw a couple of rocks at it hoping to bring it down but to no avail.
Named after a fairy from the mountain who one day happened to hear a young man playing his flute by the waterfall. She was so moved by the boys song that she fell in love with him, however her parents didn’t approve & forbid her returning there, they didn’t want other people gossiping about the family & her loose morals. In an act of defiance she turned herself into a yellow bird & flew down to the waterfall to listen to the young boy's songs from afar.
Located about 15kms outside of Sa Pa inside the Hoang Lien National Park along the beautifully picturesque windy mountain National Highway 4D (Quoc Lo 4D) & approximately 3kms after the Silver Waterfall (Thác Bạc), this nature park features a 3-day walking trail to the summit of Mt Fansipan (3143 meters). Motorbikes & scooters can be hired in town for $5 US a day & the ride out here is worth the effort especially if you are a couple looking for a mountain ride to fill in half a day & to avoid the crowds.
Immediately next to the pay booth at the car park is a steep path that leads up a hill. Up top is a small Chinese-style pagoda with a huge bronze-cast bell at the centre. This is all very nice & picturesque but better yet is the excellent views of Vietnam’s highest mountain, Mt Fansipan, 2 smaller mountains on either side stand watch like huge guardsmen. The stairs of the pagoda sits you facing the mountain peak .Almost always covered in mist, sitting up there at the pagoda waiting for the clouds to pass was time well spent, Fansipan’s peak doesn’t reveal itself easily but for a few moments every so often the gods unwrap the peak from the misty clouds.