“I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Well Robert Frost, we should have listened to you. And we probably would have, had we seen the path…
We arrived in Du Gia, a small town nestled in a valley surrounded by high peaks, in early afternoon. After finding a homestay, they asked if we wanted to see the waterfall. “Sure!” we said, and one of the locals hopped on his motorbike and showed us the way, bumping along dirt/rock paths at the high speed that only locals can do. We tried our best to keep up. He showed us to a waterfall, which was quite nice; crystal clear waters, nice little swimming area, and mimed to us to climb up the hill. “Big!” he said, indicating that there was a bigger waterfall, should we only just climb up the hill.
So after a short time at the easily reached waterfall we decided to see this “big” waterfall. So we hiked up the hill. Not just any hill, a zig-zag of probably 30 degree incline for about 500 m. No waterfall in sight. It must be further. So we continued on this bulldozed path higher and higher into the mountains.
Soon the bulldozed path turns to more of a mud and dirt path, but it continues, and thus so do we, climbing higher and higher. You may be thinking “didn’t they realize they were getting further away from the water?”. Yes. Yes we did, but with these mountains you never know whats around the corner and it could be the biggest waterfall ever.
So around more corners we went, “maybe it’s around the next one…”. We passed a few houses/farms high in the hills, and the children would come and wave. We now carry candy with us for these moments. So after the first bunch of kids (notice the toddler with the baby carrier on her back) we continued on for the elusive waterfall. We didn’t hike all this way not to find it.
About 1.5 km later we came to another bunch of kids. This one had an older boy, maybe 10 years old. We tried our best to say “waterfall” in Vietnamese- he couldn’t read the translation- and eventually he got it. He said, follow him, and away we went, further and further away from our motorbikes at the first waterfall. We’re now at least 5 km in and at the top of a mountain. Eventually he leads us to a small stream with a measly waterfall and motions that we can keep climbing.
We’ve now hiked for about 1.5 hours to try and find this thing, and the path is quite treacherous and looks to get even more so. We cut our losses and give the kids jelly beans for their accompaniment. We eat some ourselves for nourishment to start the journey back down the mountain.
We are almost back to the start when about half way up the initial hill we notice a small path off the main one that we hadn’t seen before. It goes right beside the river. We walk maybe 100m and there it is. The “big” waterfall. Literally upstream maybe 200m from where we were initially.
We jumped in to wash of fthe mud and sweat from our trek through the mountains, chalking the whole thing up to a good workout and a good story.
Well, we did travel both, but lesson learned- keep your eyes peeled for where they diverge in the first place.