Let’s go to Mang Den when cherry blossoms bloom around Dak Ke lake


On a summer evening, wandering on a crowded street in District 1, we randomly asked each other: “Should we go to Mang Den?”. At that time, all three of them had just quit their jobs.

Let’s go to Mang Den when cherry blossoms bloom around Dak Ke lakeMang Den is surrounded by vast green forests

Mang Den is surrounded by vast green forests

Yes, then go. Booked the car in a hurry, booked the homestay in a hurry, we got in the car and left in a hurry, almost running away.

Kon Tum city welcomed us with freezing cold at 4 o’clock. We rented a motorbike and traveled about 60km to Mang Den.

Spacious paved road, smooth curves, pine forests and chilly air. Every time we walked, we had to stop to look and to fill our chests with the atmosphere that we had longed for so many times in Saigon.

Mang Den is the district capital town of Kon Plong district, Kon Tum province. The name Mang Den comes from the name T’mang Deeng of the Mo Nam people, meaning flat and large land. Mang Den is not a black bamboo shoot like we joked about on the way.

With an altitude of 1,200m above sea level and surrounded by vast primeval forests, Mang Den possesses an extremely pleasant, cool and temperate temperature.

We arrived at the homestay around noon. Beautiful little homestay recreated from an old villa, located near Dak Ke lake. This is the “property” of 3 young people in their 90s who used to live in the city and then decided to leave the city and go to Mang Den to open a homestay.

We stayed in a double room with a balcony overlooking the pine forest. When we opened the window, we could catch slanting rays of sunlight and see the small vegetable garden. I pulled out a few books I brought from Saigon, such as Star Square, Tomorrow… displayed on the doorstep, next to a potted plant and some dried pine cones, giving myself a truly poetic and sincere living space.

Vast peaceful green grasslands

Vast peaceful green grasslands

Called a town, Mang Den is quite sparsely populated. There is an area called “ghost villa village” hidden in the middle of the pine forest, adding to the quietness and a bit of mystery. This villa area was built more than a decade ago with the expectation of welcoming the tourism wave, but then fell into oblivion.

During the day, the sun shines golden in the small town, but in the sunlight there is still a cold feeling, not hot. At night, from about 6:00 p.m., the dew falls, the temperature also drops, it’s freezing cold. At around 7:00 p.m., the roads were almost empty.

In that weather, going to eat sturgeon hotpot, grilled chicken with wild pepper leaves, bamboo-tube rice, hot and fragrant roasted wild boar… nothing compares. Add a cup of filter coffee leisurely falling drop by drop in the corner of the small shop, those were our beautiful days.

In the heart of Mang Den is the peaceful Dak Ke lake. The water surface is clear, blue, with small ripples, surrounded by green trees, including cherry apricot trees. People here say that in December and January, cherry blossoms bloom, reflecting on the lake surface, very beautiful! Mang Den also has Ba Sy waterfall which is also very famous.

Ba Sy Waterfall is a famous place in Mang Den

Ba Sy Waterfall is a famous place in Mang Den

The place that makes me most nostalgic in Mang Den is the vast green grass hill, introduced by local people. The grass grown here is elephant grass, green in color, taller than half a person.

Appearing somewhere on stilt roofs, a farm vehicle slowly passed by. While standing in the middle of the meadow, I thought about the dream of “being a keeper of the children in the fields” of the character Holden Caulfield in the book The Catcher in the Rye.

I also dreamed of a wooden house in the middle of that green grass field, playing every day with the children in the highlands. But maybe, like Holden Caulfield, “that’s crazy and stupid, I know!”.

We left Mang Den on a foggy morning, bringing with us fresh and lovely memories of a small town with few people passing by. Promise yourself that when the cherry blossoms bloom around Dak Ke lake, you will return to this place, together.

The slopes are full of wildflowers

The slopes are full of wildflowers

To borrow the words of Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I recognized within me an invincible summer.” For me, the short summer days in Mang Den gave me the opportunity to temporarily forget a lot of fatigue, to live simply and positively, to return to being a better version of myself.

At this moment, I still remember the sound of whispering pine trees, the red stilt roofs, the slopes full of wild chrysanthemums, the green meadows, the fragrant smell of coffee, and the sincere smiles.

"The pine trees are ringing down the hill, I dream of a house with smoke at the top..."

“The pine trees are ringing down the hill, I dream of a house with smoke at the top…”