A Special Birthday without candles, flowers and cakes
After the lockdown due to the complicated outbreak of the pandemic, the city of Da Nang, where I work, has been relaxed for basic and essential activities, although mass gatherings are still limited. October 5 is the birthday of a sister that I love very much and she is also the leader of our cycling team. She is a person that everyone who meets her will have a very good impression of her, everyone in our cycling group gave her the nickname "Chi Dai" (Big Sister). She is a national bicycle referee, the leader of a cycling team and also the only female member who leads 17 members who are men from young to old in our team. Her small appearance will surprise many people because of her health, her spirit and her stubbornness when conquering steep passes that even many men are afraid of. She always takes care of the spiritual life of the members enthusiastically, so on her birthday, I want to celebrate it in the style of a cyclist 😄
Since it was not a weekend, many members had to work, so there were 6 people can join that day. With the main idea of a birthday to spend time together, we wanted to bring her lots of joy. The place I chose is Dong Xanh Dong Nghe lake in Hoa Khuong commune, a suburb of the city, 35km away from the city center. This is the largest reservoir of Da Nang city and beautiful terrain with 3 sides of mountains and a dam on the other side. There is only one road leading up to the dam. This place attracts young people to check-in and locals to go picnic and fishing. Standing from the top of the dam, you can't see the end of the lake because it is partially hidden behind the mountain. Fortunately, a while ago my brother and I rode bicycles to explore this area, at that time the lake had dried up and left open space for us to get over the rocks and go deeper into the end of the lake. At there, we had discovered a fairly flat valley hiding behind the mountain with beautiful green grass and beautiful unique wind and water erosion rock formations, this is also the place that I planned to hold the birthday party. There are 3 ways to access this valley: trekking through the nearby hills, crossing a stream by renting a boat or waiting for the dry season (June to early November) to follow the lakeside.
We met up and started at 5am to enjoy the chilly atmosphere in the early morning, chose the deserted roads next to the rice fields, even though it’s farther away, but we can avoid the dust and pollution of the main road and enjoy riding and chatting together. When we reached the dam, we took a few photos together and then carried the bike over the railing of the dam to get down to the lakeside strip. The road was quite bad with lots of gravel, after going for a while, we encountered an obstacle block. Together, we carried each car through the rock with teamwork spirit and continued to move deep inside. The green grasses gradually appeared from the shallows in the morning dew, shining brilliantly in the morning sun. The green color of life and the sounds of birds and insects had pumped clean and healthy energy into our bodies. And the rocks in the lake bed that were once covered underwater, now exposed with beautiful rough shapes to our amazement.
Cycling on the trails surrounded by grasslands and rocks feels like being lost in a new, pristine steppe with little human impact. When we approached the end of the lake, we saw the valley surrounded by mountains, a few small houses are scattered around the banks. There are 6 households living in this area and are allocated to cultivate industrial crops such as acacia, tea in the neighboring hills and protect the forests. On the shore of the lake, there was a group of young people playing on the large grass by the lake, when we approached to exchange and talk, we knew that they had came here from the previous day by sup to camp overnight and been preparing to return. They were quite surprised to hear that we cycled from the city center all the way up here along the lakeside. They were excited to borrow our bikes to have some poses and we were also excited to take photos with sup.
After chatting for a while we continued to move deeper into the valley. I planned to visit a residential home that I visited last time and ask them to help to make some homemade dishes. Last time, they treated me with a chicken, a carp caught from the lake and fresh tea picked up on the mountain. After eating, I had a hammock to lie down, enjoyed the scenery and listened to the birds singing, which was a precious feeling of peace and quiet. The landlady is very happy when people come to visit because in here she meets very few people and only goes out of the residential area when she needs to buy food. From the view of her house, we can eat and drink while overlooking the lake and green grass, watch the cows and goats run and jump freely. But unfortunately this time, perhaps everyone went to the forest to work, so there was no one at home. We had to leave it for another time and played around for a while before preparing to leave. Looking at Sister Dai's bright smile, everyone was also very happy because of simple happiness by doing simple things and spending time together. Everyone also didn’t want to go back.
Away from the valley and to the residential area, it was already past 8 am and the sun was already more intense. We chose a roadside eatery for breakfast. Each person chooses a dish and a can of beer and congratulates her on her new age. Sister Dai thanked the brothers and said "more age is to get older and worse, but today I laughed so hard that I felt younger". A brother immediately teased her "Sister Dai is older by more kilograms" making everyone laugh because of her unique smile. We rested and chatted until 9:15 am then pedaling back under the October sun.
Birthdays do not necessarily have cakes, candles, flowers, if we really spend time together, it is the most meaningful and precious gift.
Thank you everyone for reading!
P/s: Photographs were taken by me and my bro in the team.