The Lake Of Heaven
By Chi Lan
Búng Bình Thiên (Binh Thien Lake), which owns the beauty of blue and clear water and the sound of tranquility, appears as a sweet dream
|Floating fish cages on Binh Thien Lake|
How miracle the lake of heaven is! Legend has it that over 200 years ago, a general of the Tay Son reign led a troop across this place in the dry season. To satisfy the thirst of soldiers, he prayed and then stabbed his sword into the ground, where water sprayed out continually to form a lake. The lake has been named Búng Bình Thiên, or the lake of heaven, ever since.
No one knows why the lake is called búng. According to late archeologist Vuong Hong Sen, the Khmer people called a muddy land with abundant fish, shrimps and wild grass “bng,” but later local people pronounced it wrongly as “búng.”
The lake lies among Khanh Binh, Khanh An and Nhon Hoi communes in An Phu District, An Giang Province. The lake covers some 300 hectares in the dry season and up to 1,000 hectares in the flooding season. Despite adjoining the muddy alluvial Binh Di River, the water of Binh Thien Lake is always clear. The heavenly lake becomes fanciful and splendid in the eyes of local residents.
In the flooding season, tourists should come to the upstream communes of Khanh An and Khanh Binh to contemplate the floodwater, taste cá linh (Thynnichthys thynnoides) hot pot cooked with iên in (Sesbania sesban) flowers.
Standing on a small bridge, travelers will clearly see two different colors of water: a clearly blue color in the lake and the muddy color of alluvium in the adjacent Binh Di River. The lake is still in the breeze. A man on a small boat silently throws the nest to catch fish. It is such a peaceful landscape with small houses there amidst the blue sky and the clear water of the lake.
Riding slowly along the lake, tourists will see the daily life of the Cham people who have lived peacefully from generation to generation, their pretty houses on stilts along the path, cows grazing on the field, Cham girls washing clothes at a wharf, and some floating houses in the lake. The scene looks like a painting of a talented artist.
Búng Bình Thiên is arguably the largest freshwater lake in the Mekong Delta, supplying water for An Phu District and the surrounding areas. It is also home to many species of freshwater fish.