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  Geography

The colours of Gia Lai

Pounding rice beside a Rong house in Dekop Commune

Coming to Gia Lai Province, visitors can not only enjoy the unique cultural traits of the Western Highlanders and discover the religious polytheistic rites with primitive farmer but also call at many historical-cultural relics and scenic spots.

Gia Lai has a long-standing history with an ancient culture bearing traits of the ethnic groups of Giarai, Ba Na, Gie Trieng, Xo Dang, K'ho, etc. This is manifested through the architecture of the rong (communal house), stilt houses, burial grounds, and traditional festivals and fetes such as the buffalo stabbing rite, the Pothi ritual, etc.

Eight kilometres north of Pleiku City is the Bien Ho, or the To-nung Lake. This used to be the mouth of a volcano, which was active thousands of years ago. Visitors feel so much a part on nature when strolling around the lake's 250-ha area, with its clean water and forest trees. Many people describe the lake as a pearl of Pleiku in particular and the whole Central Highlands in general.

Phu Cuong Waterfall, 45 km from Pleiku City to the Southeast, with its high water flow and sheer rock walls, is an imposing sight amid the green flora carpet. Many visitors don't take a bus to the foot of the waterfall, but stop about 1 km from it, then continue their trip by riding on an elephant.

After enjoying the waterfall and surrounding areas along the Ia Peet Stream, visitors arrive to the Lower Ayun River where an irrigation dam was built with a water reservoir of 3,700 ha in area. Taking a boat ride on the reservoir to contemplate the greenness of the forests and breathe the fresh air, going fishing or visiting the ethnic groups of Ba Na and Giarai nearby the dam are also unforgettable experiences of the journey.

The "Green Field" Park is only 7 km from Pleiku City to the South. Located on An Phu rice field, 80 ha in area, the park is home to many wild animals of the northern Central Highlands and the cultural cradle of the ethnic Ba Na and Giarai. The architecture of the burial grounds, the long house and dwelling houses, sounds of the T'rung xylophone and gongs, and local food including grilled meat, rice cooked in bamboo tubes, and local wine, will impress the visitors.

The beautiful image of the Ialy Waterfall is now replaced by the imposing image of the Ialy Hydro-electric Plant, a huge project in the Central Highlands. To date, it is the second biggest plant of this kind in Vietnam, after the Hoa Binh Hydro-electric Plant.

Leaving Gia Lai, visitors will bring home impressions of this eco-tourist site with its imposing land and honest people.

VNS - (19/10/2004)


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