The surreal Vietnamese lake that proves nature is an artist

Sophisticated Google Earth maps and artistic yet effortless pictures manage to capture Ba Be’s indescribable beauty.

For a lake which was, at least according to a bedtime story for children, created out of spite by a Maleficent-like vengeful fairy, Ba Be appears way too Zen.

Legend has it that Vietnam’s largest natural lake in the mountainous province of Bac Kan was a result of days of floods and downpours summoned by the fairy.

The reason: she was mistreated by most of the villagers because of her looks. Only a mother and her child who had been kind to the fairy were spared.

Geologists would love that story’s moral, but they may have their own scientific explanation.

It is believed that the crater lake was formed during the transformation of Southeast Asia’s continental mass around 200 million years ago.

That means science and folklore both agree on one thing: the lake is as old as time.

In 1995, at a global convention in the U.S., Ba Be was named one of 20 unique freshwater lakes in the world that need to be protected.

According to a post on the UNESCO website, the lake is special because it is forevermore full of water. Three rivers flow into the lake, hence the name “Ba Be” or “Three Lakes.”

Maps on Google Earth, which has just unveiled an impressive new version this month, can give you a better idea of the lake’s out-of-this-world grandeur.

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Ba Be is not popular yet among travelers, which to some extent is a good thing for the lake itself and the nearby national park.

But word of mouth and stunning pictures brought back by explorers in recent years may change that soon.

The lake, less than 200 kilometers from Hanoi, reaches depths of 35 meters and measures 500 hectares in total – the same area of 4,000 Olympic swimming pools combined!

It may take visitors days to see everything, including the surrounding caves,  waterfalls and lush forests. The biggest problem is you would never want to leave.

Maybe the old bedtime story was told and retold for a reason: Vietnamese people couldn’t find a better way to explain Ba Be’s existence.

It must be a divine force of nature.

Story by Minh Nga

Photos by Cao Anh Tuan

By Minh Nga