Resorts suffer as beach disappears

Hoi An‘s lucrative tourism sector is facing major fears about the impact of erosion along the ancient town’s famous coastline, with dozens of resorts in danger of disappearing underwater in the future.

Part of Cua Dai Beach in the central city Da Nang. In the last couple of decades,
rising sea levels and changes to the river flow in the Thu Bon River estuary have
resulted in a 20ha area of Cua Dai beach eroding away. — Photo

In the last couple of decades, rising sea levels and changes to the river flow in the Thu Bon River estuary have resulted in a 20-ha area of Cua Dai beach eroding away, the head of the city’s natural resources and environment office Nguyen Van Hien has claimed.

“It’s the worst situation of its kind that I’ve ever seen. The beach is dramatically disappearing. It stretched out 200m just 10 years ago, but now it has narrowed to 40m. The rest is underwater now,” he said.

“The erosion has even approached a main section of the 1.5km road connecting the beach with Hoi An. We can often see waves crashing heavily against it,” he added.

The road in question has already had to be extensively repaired once following damage sustained during a storm two years ago.

Hien blamed the erosion on the booming construction of resorts on the beach and the lack of proper environmental assessments before dredging occurred in the estuary.

“The building of resorts near the sea has changed the flow and currents and taken away sand from the beach every year. This, in combination with rising sea levels, has deepened the erosion taking place on the beach.”

Pham Hong Trang, a staff member at the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa, said the resort’s beach is now no wider than 10m during the summer.

“The resort was launched in 2000 with a beach that stretched out for 40m, but it is much smaller now. During summer, the view is mostly just waves crashing against the resort’s dyke,” Trang said.

Similar accounts have been reported at the Sunrise, Golden Sand and Palm Garden resorts along Cua Dai beach.

The rising sea level has eroded 10,000sq.m of the Hoi An sea eco-tour company’s 30,000sq.m property and it is now having to invest heavily in order to save what is left.

The city has responded by launching a construction project for a 1.5km embankment at a cost of VND115 billion (US$5.5 million). The dyke will help protect the most heavily damaged section of the road from erosion.

“The embankment is one of the city’s seven projects in the fight against climate change. We will also dredge rivers and upgrade roads,” said Hoi An City’s People’s Committee Deputy Chairman Nguyen Van Dung.

The city will also invest VND7.5 billion ($357,000) to replant 140ha of Nipa palm along the Thu Bon river. It is hoped that this ecological forest will protect the city from sea erosion and ease the flow of the river as well as reducing sand drift on the beach.

The majority of forest land in the area was destroyed in recent years to make way for aquaculture farms. Many of these have now been revoked so that the replanting can commence.

Cua Dai beach is 5km from Hoi An’s old quarter. It is a favourite location for tourists visiting the UNESCO-recognised city.


Three ancient wells

The banian tree, well and communal yard are the most common features of Vietnamese countryside.

They seem to have fallen into oblivion with the passage of time. However, there are three ancient wells which have been well preserved by Thuong Hoi villagers in Hanoi’s outlying district of Dan Phuong.

The first square-shaped well is the most beautiful, close to the front gate of the village.

The second round-shape is in the middle and the third oval-shaped at the end of the village. They are all brick-built

80-year old villager Tran Thuyet, says the village used to have four gates and three wells but can preserve two gates and three wells.

                                  The square well (more than 700sq.m)

The round-shaped well (around 200sq.m)

The oval-shaped well (360 sq.m)

Main gate

Middle gate- a site for Cheo Tau festival celebration 

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is the tourist destination which will bring you to a few imperial capitals of the country in the ancient and medieval eras. Visiting Hoa Lu, you will not only have a fun and exciting time, but can learn more about culture and history as well.

Karst mountain range in picturesque Hoa Lu
Hoa Lu is some 110km or two hours from Hanoi. Located near the town of Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu is the site of a 10th-century capital of an ancient Vietnamese Kingdom called Dai Co Viet. This small Kingdom covered an area of only 300 hectares, and reigned from the 10th century, during the Dinh and Le dynasties, to the 11th century, during the Ly Dynasty. The Kingdom was enclosed by a citadel. The citadel and the Yen Ngua limestone hills provided good defence for this kingdom against the Chinese.

The mountains and sea combined to make Hoa Lu’s picturesque landscape. Hoa Lu lays in a flat valley surrounded by the Trang An lime stone mountains, which form a natural wall protecting the old citadel. The city’s northwest is bordered by the Hoang Long River, the tributaries of which run through the capital, cooling the weather within the city and serving as convenient waterways.

Not much of this ancient kingdom is left standing. Whatever that remains of the palaces and shrines would only be of interest to archaeologists. The Royal Court was built in an area of 150 hectares in the eastern part of the capital while the western part served as a site to educate and protect children. The surrounding to be quite picturesque, with its ponds and limestone range forming a jagged horizon. There are two 17th century temples, modelled after their 11th-century originals that are on most itineraries to Hoa Lu. They are the Dinh Tien Hoang Temple and Le Hoan Temple, dedicated to the founder of the Dinh Dynasty and to its successor, reachable after a climb of more then 200 steps. I shall describe these two temples separately on their respective pages.

As the capital of the country for 41 years, Hoa Lu has many palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions that were built by different dynasties. One of the most popular pieces of architecture is the Bao Thien Tue Palace, which was plated with gold and silver. However many vestiges have been destroyed due to time and weather.

In 968, Dinh Bo Linh ascended to the throne and took the name of King Dinh Tien Hoang and reunified the country under the name of Dai Co Viet. Hoa Lu was its capital for 41 years (968-1009). The first 12 years were the Dinh Dynasty while the rest were the Le Dynasty with King Le Dai Hanh. In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital to Thang Long (Hanoi now).


Dinh Tien Hoang Temple at Hoa Lu

Coming to Hoa Lu visitors can attend traditional cultural festivals here, and the most important and largest of them is the Truong Yen Festival, which is held on the 10th day of the third lunar month. The festival is in memory of the Kings of the Dinh and Le dynasties. The festival lasts for three days with many traditional games and martial arts, reflecting local residents’ legends.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Festival

The festival is held annually on the 10th -13th of March of the lunar calendar in Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district with the purpose of commemorating the two kings Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh.

The festival includes two parts: Worshiping is water procession at Truong Yen water station located on Hoang Long river and worship at the two temples of King Dinh and King Le. Entertainment activities includes performing “Co lau tap tran”, competing in writing Han script, playing chess, performing dragon dance, etc.

How to get to Hoa Lu?

You can easily get a day tour from Hanoi to visit Hoa Lu from most travel agents in Hanoi. Such a tour usually includes a boat ride at Tam Coc as well. The tour begins in the morning and ends at the early part of the afternoon. Hoa Lu is about 110km from Hanoi, and takes 2 hours to reach.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is really an important cultural and historical site of great value in Vietnam.

Sai Gon Post Office – A tourist destination

Located in downtown Sai Gon (present-day Ho Chi Minh City ), Sai Gon Post Office is a frequent destination for tourists during their visit to this city.

It was built between 1886 and 1891 and designed by architect Villedieu and his assistant Foulhoux in a unique Europe-Asia styled architecture with Cham motifs, modern baroque bas-relief and typical decorations of the architecture under the Third Republic of France.

The building is highlighted with a balanced composition of high aesthetical value. The details are equally divided apart and opposite to each other by a central axis. Its facade is built in blocks with arches over the doors and windows. Etched into the face are the names of famous Frenchmen, such as Voltaire, Laplace and Arage and notable inventors. There are also engravings of men and women adorned with laurel wreaths.

The architecture is simple and modestly dotted with decorations of the dragon’s head, flower branches and plants. The pillars, main or auxiliary, and the eaves have all cubic composition. On the top of each pillar there are delicate engravings and bas-reliefs. Under the arch outside the building, there is a huge clock, which is as old as the building and continues to keep proper time.

Entering the building, visitors will see a tall and spacious hall with its dome having steel frames and decorative designs. The structure of domes includes a large dome covering the main gate and another long dome inside. The large dome is supported with four pillars placed on four steel bases in four corners, each pillar holding four steel beams reaching out to the four directions. The long dome inside is supported by two rows of steel bases. Due to this dome construction, the entire building is spacious and well ventilated and full of sunlight, which is well received by the throngs of people coming and going.

On the side walls, there are two maps with the captions in French, “Saigon et ses environs 1892” (Sai Gon and its environment 1892) and “Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1936″ (Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892). Over more than 100 years of existence, these two maps have been retained sharply. However researchers are still uncertain about the material used to draw these maps.

The unique and beautiful architecture of Sai Gon Post Office is increasingly highlighted because opposite the front of the building is another delicate architectural work, i.e. the Notre Dame Cathedral with its high bell tower. Dominique, a tourist from Paris, said that he really enjoyed seeing a mini Paris in downtown Sai Gon.

Sai Gon Post Office joins other architectural highlights of the city, including the Governor’s Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the City Hall and the City Court, all composing a group of architectural works with an open space harmonious with the surrounding green trees, thus making them romantic and solemn looking.

Rong House in Central Highlands – The heart of Kon Tum

Rong House in Central Highlands and in Kon Tum is considered as the heart of ethnic minority. Like the communal house, Rong House is a place to hold important events.

Local people consider Rong House as a solemn and sacred place. It seems to be a symbol of power because most local people gather here for common acitivities.

Therefore, ethnic minorities attach special importance to both the conservation and the development of Rong House.Ethnic minority people think that Rong House represents the ascendancy and wealth of their village. Therefore, Rong House play an important role to their life. It is a place for gods to stay.

Spiritual activities of local people take place in Rong House. The roof of Rong House is decorated with beautiful patterns. Most villages have to have Rong House. Any village that does not have Rong House will be called “women village.

Therefore, the most eldest person and old people in the village have to choose a suitable place for Rong House carefully. They often choose the place in the center of the village to built Rong House. Then local people can built their houses surrounding it. This is an ancient architecture not many villages preserve.

It takes several years to complete a new Rong House. In addition, most local people will take part in the process of building the house, so they become closer.

According cultural researchers, Rong House in the northern of Central Highlands is quite special and diversified. Each ethnic group has it different construction so Rong House has different shapes and different names.

Nowadays, many villages hang pictures of Uncle Ho and national flag in Rong House to show their deep gratitude.Rong House is also used to hold cultural activities like films presentation, performance, meeting, etc.

Until now, Kon Tum district has built 575 Rong Houses and repaired old Rong House in hamlets, and villages. Most people in Kon Plong district and Dak To district has Rong House.

“Legendary” mountain passes of Vietnamese backpackers

Being beautiful but dangerous, Pha Din mountain pass or O Quy Ho pass are legendary passes for Vietnamese backpackers.

Ma Pi Leng Pass (in Ha Giang)

This is a road curving round Ma Pi Leng mountain top that is 2,000 meters in height. The road is 20 kilometers in length. The pass connects Meo Vac commune and Dong Van commune. This mountain pass is famous for winding roads that are like snakes.

The road crossing Ma Pi Leng pass is called Hanh Phuc road. It was built from 1959 to 1965.

In 2009, Ma Pi Leng mountain was recognized as national landscape site.

O Quy Ho Pass

With the length of approximately 50 kilometers, O Quy Ho pass is the longest pass in the northwest mountains.

The pass lies in the highway 4D crossing Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The pass connects Lao Cai province and Lai Chau province. Its height is 2,000 meters.

O Quy Ho is also called Hoang lien pass. Formerly, the pass attached to an interesting story. The story was about a tiger killing people so nobody dared to travel in the pass.

Pha Din Pass

Pha Din Pass is 32 kilometers in length and 1,648 meters in height. The name of Pha Din has a root from Thai language. The pass is very beautiful and stunning.

Khau Pha Pass

This is the longest pass in the highway 32. It is 30 kilometers in length.

The pass is near the border of Van Chan district and Mu Cang Chai district. It goes through many famous destinations like La Pan Tan, Mu Cang Chai, Tu Le, Che Cu Na, Nam Co, etc at the height of 1,200-1,500 meters above sea level.

Besides terraced rice fields stretching endlessly, Khau Pha also has primitive old forests and many rare species of animals.

Early morning at a fish market

As usual, about 2 AM, when the sun still be under the horizon, many people had presented at Phuoc Loc beach of Tam Tien commune (Nui Thanh district, Quang Nam province, 12km far from Tam Ky city center). They were fishing traders, buyers came from many places, local people, transporting workers… and be waiting for boats to come back the market after a long fishing trip.

 When the first sunrays began showing down the sea and the first fishing boats came back, a new trading morning  at Phuoc Loc fishing market started. The noisy atmosphere stirred up the calm  and silent dawn of a small sea area.

Dawn over the Tam Tien sea

Acording to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Luan, Vice chairman of Tam Tien People’s Committee, this small market was founded spontaneously more than 30 years ago by people of two hamlets Phuoc Loc and Ha Quang.

In the first days, it was only a small stalls to sell and buy sea products for daily meals with low price. Years after years, thanks to high horsepower boats, new fishing technology and modern means which helped local people to fish far away, catched more and more product as well as the great demand of customers in the province, many people from some districts in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provines have come here to buy fish and shrimp for their trade.

Up to date, although this fishing market operates about 6 to 7 hours a day only, but it has become one of  the important sea products trading points in both retail and wholesale of  Nui Thanh district.

Waiting for fishing boats to comeback Phuoc Loc market

Basket boats with full of fresh fishes and shrimps make Phuoc Loc fish market more crowded and joyfull.

Transporting fish to the seashore to serve customers come from remote places.

Fishermen’s happy face after a rich fishing trip.

An overview landscape of Phuoc Loc fish market.