Ensconced in Dong Thap Province, Lang Sen Wetland Reserve is already a destination for people who love nature and could soon become a hot-spot for couples as well. Tran Trong Trung reports.
When dusk fell, the wind glided across each twig and blade of grass. In the sunset, the birds came back to their nests, their chirp echoing melodiously in the mystical landscape. Water rippled, each cajeput leaf rustled, their flowers radiated a fragrance.
All these elements create a peaceful natural scene that draws thousands of tourists to Lang Sen Wetland Reserve.
The reserve is located in Dong Thap Muoi (The Plain of Reeds), a vast swampy region stretching across the three provinces of Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Thap. In the past, this was a harsh land full of sun and wind, covered in wild grass and wild rice, alum soil and mud, mosquitos, leeches, fish, birds, snakes and rats. It was famous as a “sacred forest where the water is toxic”.
Today, Dong Thap Muoi has formed many natural preservation areas including Tram Chim National Park, Gao Giong Ecological Tourism Site and Dong Tam Snake Farm as well as Lang Sen Wetland Reserve.
Lang Sen literally means “wetland with many lotus flowers.” The reserve includes 50ha of lotus plants as well as 40ha of wild rice. Covering a total area of more than 5,030ha in Vinh Loi and Vinh Dai communes of Tan Hung District, Long An Province, Lang Sen creates a microcosm of the natural landscape of the pristine Plain of Reeds. The area is home to thousands of wetland birds, hundreds of species of freshwater fish, 156 species of wild plants and many amphibians, reptiles and other plankton.
The bird population includes many rare species in need of conservation such as white-winged ducks, brown-backed owls and kingfishers. Lang Sen provides an ideal ecological environment for birds because there are many sources of food and abundant trees that create a quiet and safe space for them.
At dawn, when dew drops still dotted the grass, we sat on a motor boat looking at both banks. Many birds were flying in search of food, chirping happily. A herd of hundreds of wild ducks, hearing the motor boat engine, soared up and flew toward the far green cajeput forests.
The food is another highlight of the experience. Visitors can sample a variety of local specialties including grilled snakehead fish wrapped in lotus leaves, rice steamed with lotus seeds, snails steamed with pepper, baked snakes and frogs fried with salt, as well as various kinds of fresh fish cooked with local vegetables. Wash these down with rice wine mixed with pure, aromatic honey.
“After a stressful business day, my family and I and our friends often come to Lang Sen to relax because this area has fresh air and a diverse ecosystem with many species of rare birds and animals – it’s known as the “green lungs” of the surrounding cities,” said Tran Ba Thuan, a businessman who processes and trades timber in Long Dien B Commune, Cho Moi District, An Giang Province. “We also love the rustic but delicious food”.
Huynh Thi Ha, a retired teacher in Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province, organises a family trip every year to see various sights in the province. This year, her family visited the Lang Sen Wetland Reserve.
“The area is very quiet and peaceful, so we felt we were lost in a wonderland!” she said. “Seeing the water fields, filled with aromatic lotus flowers, reminds me of the immortal verse of poet Bao Dinh Giang that many people think is a popular verses: ‘The Plain of Reeds’ most beautiful thing is lotus, Viet Nam’s most beautiful name is Ho Chi Minh.’ I hope my family comes back to Lang Sen next year.”
Thanks to the efforts of local people who have worked hard to establish the reserve, the area provides a peaceful country escape for city dwellers. As Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh from Can Tho City said: “Living in urban areas, we’re used to the noise of engines and constant smoke and dust. Visiting Lang Sen, I felt relaxed. I could breathe fresh air, admire each tree, blade of grass, lotus and lily, watch the birds flying and chirping… It was so wonderful!”