Seascapes that will rock your soul

Nga Do
There are no long sandy beaches to enjoy long walks on, no high mountains to climb and enjoy panoramic views of the ocean from.

But you will miss out big on stunning seascapes if you pass a chance to visit Hang Rai in Ninh Thuan Province. Located within the Nui Chua National Park in a province famous for its vineyards and salt fields, Hang Rai is a stretch of rocky outcrops on the coast that offer endless opportunities to gasp at the beauty of sunsets and daybreaks, not to mention reflect on life itself.

The fact that it has become a lighthouse for photographers who find “endless inspiration” there is an indication of what awaits visitors. Getting there from Phan Rang City is itself a visual treat, with the coastal road running by innumerable white mounds of salt that remind us how vital the sea is to our existence. Imagine a life without salt! And after passing by many roadside salt fields, we were lucky to come upon a peaceful scene of several herds of sheep leisurely wandering on rocky outcrops that glistened in the radiant sunlight.

The first impression I had on reaching our destination was that we were lost in a poetic painting of waters pouring down from the Chua (God) Mountain. The pure, clear streamline could be easily seen on the sand, reflecting images of the rows of coconut palms hidden behind blossoming cacti. Contemplating the beauty of evergreen moss mingling with silvery waves, I could not escape the feeling that we were in the presence of a masterpiece sketched by nature. The moss that gathered densely on ancient coral reef that seemed to float on transparent water looked like a humongous jade green gem from afar.

Even after these sights, the most beautiful moment in the area is perhaps at dawn when the water magically changes colours as the sun’s creativity runs riot. At this time, the cliffs etched against the background of a pure blue sky assume hues that I am not able describe. The cameras clicked endlessly and there were audible sighs and gasps as we climbed down from the outcrop called God Mountain to get wowed by the “waterfalls in the sea”. The special terrain of piles of rocks heaped over centuries by nature creates many large and small caves that are homes to many otters, giving the place its name, Rai.

Other things to do

Besides taking photographs and gazing wonderstruck at the landscape, visitors can also go scuba diving to see the coral forest on the seabed, said to be most beautiful in Ninh Thuan Province. And if you like, you can catch moon snails hiding among the rocks after the tide has ebbed away, or ask local fishermen to give you a fun ride. And when there is water and there are rocks, there are many fishing spots. Hang Rai is home to a variety of both otters and fish, and several of us had the chance to show off our catch and because we came equipped with an “oven,” we were able to convert the seafood into a delicious meal right on the beach. Another option is to get to one or more of several floating restaurants in the bay mouth area that are accessible by boat.

Following the advice of previous visitors, we tried the renowned local dish called goi ca mai (Vietnamese raw fish salad) both in dry and wet versions. It was well worth trying, the sweetness and greasiness of the fish combined well with raw vegetables. To taste the dry salad, we squeezed lime juice over the fish, mixed it with herbs and crushed peanuts and shoveled the mixture into grilled rice paper. The sweet and sour dipping sauce was a perfect accompaniment. And the fruits of our trip, besides countless exciting experience, are so many photos of the beautiful landscape that we had just set foot on.

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