‘Dragon’s Jaws’ to be tourist drawcard

Ham Rong Bridge battle site, a symbol of the courage, resilience and will of the Vietnamese people in the war against the US, will become a tourist destination in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

Ham Rong Bridge

This follows recent plans by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to preserve, restore and promote the values of the site.

The Ham Rong area will be built into a centre of ecological and cultural tourism. It will include a camping site and an entertainment and sports centre covering a total area of nearly 600ha.

The site will include world-renowned Dong Son archaeological site connected to the ancient Dong Son culture of 3,500 years ago.

The overall site covers not only battle sites in mountains around Ham Rong, but also old villages (Dong Son, Hac Oa and Phuong Xa) and religious sites containing pagodas and cathedrals.

A trade centre, hotels, restaurants, cultural and recreational areas will be developed beside the Ma River. It will include an ethnic area, archaeological park and botanical garden to serve visitors and researchers.

Ham Rong Bridge has gone down in history as a symbol of the courage and resilience of the Vietnamese people during the Americans.

The Vietnamese gave it the nickname Ham Rong (Dragon’s Jaw). In 1965 during the American war, it was subjected to many attacks by the US Air Force and Navy aircraft, but they failed to destroy the bridge.

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Nha Trang Sea is picturesque from above

The sea of Nha Trang is as beautiful as a picture seen from above. One that is once here will be unable to forget the poetic beauty that nature has bestowed to this coastal city.

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Nha Trang panorama.

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The new urban area.

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Binh Tan Bridge.

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Tran Phu Bridge.

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Shrimp lagoons.

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Dawn on Tram Huong Tower.

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The simple life of coastal people.

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Ships return home.

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 Vinpearl resort.

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 Peace on the small island.

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 The panorama of a golf course in Nha Trang

 

The charming and romantic scenery of Trang An

Trang An located about 3 km away from the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, is a wonderful landscape. Road from Trang An to Ninh Binh is very long and smooth and both sides of the road are the newly planted trees with premature green leaves.

We arrived at Trang An at noon but the atmosphere here is very cool with charming scenery of the majestic mountains reflecting the calm and clean water surface. On waterfront, there are many blue boats making the scenery more charming as a nice picture.

Trang An has nearly 50 large and small caves, but a tour around this area just has to go through 10 large caves.  In these caves, rocks were eroded by water many years ago and it created these lively and colorful stalactites

Each cave has a private name such as  Dia Linh, Nau Ruou, Ao trai cave. That is an amazing experience when visitors sit on a boat to explore these caves. Because you not only sit still but also not tilt from side to side and bow your head very low to avoid stalactites hanging down from the top of the cave.

The atmosphere in cave is very cool and when getting out the mouth of the cave, you will be surprising because of wonderful scenery. Water in lake is very clean and visitors can see through its surface .

Coming back from Trang An, visitors can stop at a roadside to enjoy special dishes: goat meat, “com chay”.  “ Com chay” is very crispy and spicy with light yellow. It is very delicious!

According to the legend, by the end of the 19th century, a Ninh Binh young man named Dinh Hoang Thang worked for a Chinese in Hanoi. He fell in love with the landlord`s daughter but was rebuffed. Hoang Thang came back his home and learnt the secret to cook food deliciously and invented “com chay” and when becoming the owner of a large store, he came back to marriage his lover and her mother agreed.

Another specialty that tourists can not miss when visiting Ninh Binh is goat meat. Those goats are fed on the rocky mountain. Their main food is grass and green leaves. Therefore their meat is very delicious.  I am sure that this special cuisine will make satisfied any demanding customers.

Phuoc Binh National Park- tranquility of Nature

Phuoc Binh National Park is established on June 8th, 2006 with a total natural area of 19,814 ha. Its target is to enhance riverhead protection capacity for Cai river system in Ninh Thuan prov-ince to serve production and living activities for social and economic development of the South Central area.

Moreover, to preserve biodiversity, to maintain and develop flora and wild fauna species in Tay Nguyen and South Central area, serving scientific research and education tasks on tropical forests, dry forests and ecotour- ism development in Ninh Thuan province and South-Central area.

It represents for high mountainous ecological system of Ninh Thuan province, having high value in natural landscapes, biodiversity with various sources of gen animal, plants. Bordered with Bi Doup National Park – Lady Mount of Lam Dong province forming a large nature preservation area. Phuoc Binh National Park is a climate-transi- tional area with diversified forest categories including 6 main cate- gories and 8 subcategories.

Plants here are very abundant, consist- ing of 1,225 species, 156 families, 584 branches and some typical endemic species such as Permou, Leucaena leucocephala, Pinus Krempfii, Dalbergia oliverrii… Regarding fauna diversification, together with Bi Doup National Park- Lady Mount, this place forms a population of Vietamese typical birds .

On general appraisal of development indices for some forms of tourism, this area has a lot of potentials for tourism development due to abundant, original and typical flora, having some typical species in the region, endemic and precious domestic species.

Tourist itinerary by road is very specific, beginning from Gia Nhong station, Bo Lang station to the foot of Mount Hon Chang (Fujian cypress forest), Da May stream to Mount Gia Rich and some ecological tourist spots such as ecological lake of Thuong river, Da May ecological lake, Gia Nhong stream, Cai River in Hanh Rac cultural village.

In this area there is a very interesting and potential tourist spot named Ma Lam waterfall or Chapor waterfall according to Raglai language, at the altitude of 100 m above the ground, at Phuoc Tan commune, Bac Ai district.

This waterfall is located on a big branch of stream originating from a forest of high trees and flow- ing to Sat river, away from Ma Lam hamlet about 45 minutes on foot, water tumbles all year mak- ing beautiful scenery. Around this waterfall is a forest of high trees with many granite banks that are ideal stopovers for tourists after their hard hike. It is impossible to be compared with super water-falls in Western Highlands, how- ever, Ma Lam waterfall is one of beautiful and unique ones in the Central coast.

Phuoc Binh tourism brings people back to tranquility of Nature. Visitors in Vietnam tours live in the pure atmosphere with cool climate of four seasons as are traveling on Langbiang Highlands. Ma Lam stream with crytal clear water flowing around all year long embraces mountain villages and hamlets of Raglay people. Four-season orchards on mountaide sides provide plenty of sweet fruits for tourists visiting Phuoc Binh.

Can wine from Phuoc Binh is famous for its sweet smell and deliciousness as it is made from fermented green leaves of the forest and water from the riverhead of Ma Lam stream.

Sounds of Chhar and Sarakel mix with sound of Chapin guitars resound somewhere in the distance on maize milpas fascinating one’s heart. Customs of offering new rice harvest and leaving ghost ceremony with spiritual rituals are favourite topics for those who love to do research on folklore. Miraculous nature of Phuoc Binh in association with legendary Pinang Tac stone bank location is suggesting ecotourism combin- ing with historical relic excursion and native Raglai culture

Hua Ma Cave – mysterious place for tourists

Bac Kan is a well-known place as it used to be part of the Viet Bac Revolutionary Zone of the Vietnam Revolutionary Forces and embraces a number of tourist attractions.

Any visitors to Bac Kan could have remarkable feelings about the place and people there. During the resistance war against the French colonists, local people were very bold by having an uprising against the colonisation but now in peacetimes they have become so simple and hospitable. Bac Kan is famous for Ba Be Lake, which consists of three large fantastic lakes surrounded by mountains and forests. Still, there is another mysterious tourist destination, Hua Ma Cave.

Hua Ma Cave is located in Quang Khe Commune, Ba Be District. The cave has only recently been discovered so it is still almost untouched and enigmatic. The cave has been naturally shaped during the many-thousand-year process of geological changes. It is 700 meters in length and in some places the cave opens up and is 50 meters in height. Inside the cave, there are thousands of stalagmites and stalactites of different shapes; some look like small towers, others are like a statue of Goddess of Mercy or a formal court of mandarins in the feudal time.

In fact, Hua Ma has been known by local people for a long time but, as it bears in a myth and a much-weaved occult story, few local people would dare to approach the gate of the cave. The legend tells that a long time ago, a King headed a raiding contingent visited the locality and when he came to the bank of a stream near the cave, his horse stopped and did not go on. The King got off the horse and asked local people about the reason and local people told him that the area was a habitat of ghosts. According to them, when it was getting dark, cries generated from the cave and they decided that these were the spirits of honest people who were killed by foreign enemies during wars.

The King then ordered his troops to erect a pagoda to pray for peace for the souls of the killed people. Since then, local people have not heard the cries from the cave, yet they still consider the cave a holy place that should not be trespassed upon. As a result, the cave has been hidden until recent times.

If the cave is so mysterious inside, the view outside the cave is also great. From the mouth of the cave, people could see a large space, a vast picture of mountains, forests and water. They could see Ba Be Lake and the Nang River running smoothly in distance, they could hear birds singing elsewhere and imposing mountains and forest in front. If lucky enough, visitors could participate in a local monthly market to admire girls and boys of several local ethnic minorities in their traditional colourful dresses and clothes. They could taste and become familiar with local typical specialties and they would get drunk with home-made wine and unconsciously fall in love with the place and people.

Both Hua Ma Cave, the local people and the picturesque locality are waiting for international and domestic tourists to explore them.

Ho Dynasty Citadel excavations reveal old path

A stone pathway connected to the southern Gate of the Ho Dynasty Citadel in central Thanh Hoa province has been unearthed below the existing road surface.

Located in Vinh Loc District, the citadel was the capital of Vietnam from 1397 to 1407

Head of the team from the Archaeology Institute Tran Anh Dung said that this beautiful stone path was built under the Ho Dynasty in the late 14th century.

“We don’t dare to compare it with other similar heritages in the world but it can be said that this is Vietnam’s most beautiful ancient stone road built under the Ho Dynasty,” Dung said.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has included the 2-km royal entry into the heritage listing, said Director of the Ho Dynasty Heritage Preservation Centre Do Quang Trong.

The Ho Dynasty Citadel was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site on June 27, 2011.

Located in the two communes of Vinh Tien and Vinh Long in Vinh Loc district, the citadel measures 870m by 883m and was built in 1397.

The citadel itself includes constructions such as the Dan Nam Giao (a platform used for offerings to the heavens), Dong Mon communal house and Tam Tong temple.

However, after several centuries, almost all of the citadel’s main structures have been seriously damaged, while the wall and four main entrances are still well preserved.

Unforgettable summer and winter in Hanoi

I was born in Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – which has been a paradise from my earliest childhood. Here the weather makes you feel like being in a land of peace and gentleness, where you can feel the lovely touch of four seasons.

Summer, to some extent, is the most glamorous season in Hanoi. You can hear cicadas repeating the same sound for hours. Many people who first come to Hanoi hate this annoying sound. But for people living in Hanoi, they will miss it if summer comes without what they call “the orchestra of Hanoi”. 

More than once during my childhood I had searched high and low for a cicada to keep in my bedroom as a pet. This was one of my unforgettable experiences.

At this time of year you can see the gorgeous flamboyant flowers everywhere. These flowers are a sign of summer – time for students to have a short break and for people to travel to the sea or the mountains to escape the heat of the city. There are many songs written about summer that make reference to cicadas. Famboyant flowers and students on summer vacation remind me of my childhood.

The mix of red flowers, the old streets, French architecture and the lakes make Hanoi a very special place. Ice-cream and sugarcane juice are the delicious, cooling flavours of summer time. You can find them on every streetcorner in Hanoi and try them. They will give an instant chill indeed!

Usually during summer, Hanoians walk around the lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake or Truc Bach Lake to avoid the heat. Wandering around the lakes you can see people sitting around, eating and drinking till late at night. Finding a cool breeze is a priority and the lakeside is a good bet. Sometimes though, the traffic police come and most of the street vendors disappear, leaving behind customers with plates or glasses in hand. But everything will be back to square one when the police are gone. It’s quite a funny scene!

Most people have an image of Hanoi in a hot climate country, but I have to say that the weather in winter is damn cold. 12oC in Vietnam sounds like nothing compared with 5oC or even minus 5oC degrees like in some other countries, but it’s really different here in Hanoi. The cold honestly gets in your bones. When winter comes, everything is bleak, more quiet and slow. However, it offers a chance for young people to dress up in a few extra fashionable clothes. I usually wear two shirts, a pair of long pants, a jacket, scarf, gloves and a winter hat, but I bet others are more overdressed! In winter, people seem to be less active and like to stay at home instead of going out. No wonder most streets appear less crowded.

A special feature of winter in Hanoi is the food and drink. It is a good experience to sit on the pavement, drink a hot cup of coffee and look at what people are doing around you. Simply put, you can feel calm in the fast-paced city. There are many seasonal dishes but Khuc cake is one of the city’s specialties you can easily find in the Dong Xuan market area. At the end of Hang Duong Street the vendors sit right on the pavement with a huge pot full of Khuc cake sticky rice; you pay only about VND8,000 for one serving, and that’s your dinner! Cheap and delicious, I suppose. You’d rather try it sometimes and I strongly believe you’ll be very impressed by the taste of this cake.

Personally, I love Hanoi because it is the place where I was born and has spent most of my time living and working since childhood. Hanoi is always in my heart and my heart is in Hanoi.