Beautiful Bac Kan still sitting pretty
VietNamNet Bridge – War veteran Ta Ngoc Tho and his comrades in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung were recently invited to Bac Kan to attend the 65th anniversary of Phu Thong victory over the French. They visited several of the province's tourist destinations, such as Thanh Temple, Puong Cave and Dau Dang Waterfall.
Emerald expanse: Ba Be Lake, a UNESCO heritage site in Bac Kan.
Tho said he would never forget the fight by the Viet Nam Battalion 11 in an attack killing about 100 enemy soldiers on the French army's Phu Thong post in the northern province of Bac Kan's Bach Thong District on July 25, 1948.
"That fight had a strong impact on the French military post network in Viet Nam's northern resistance base known as Viet Bac, because the colonists had intended to use Phu Thong as a strategic position to attack surrounding areas and put down our people's patriotic movements," Tho said.
He quoted General Vo Nguyen Giap as saying:"The Phu Thong Victory is of great significance because it was the first time the Vietnamese foot soldiers overan a French fortified position. Our army gained much confidence and experience in attacking reinforced posts of the enemy, which later helped them in winning the campaign to liberate border province [in 1950], the Dien Bien Phu Battle , and the entire 30-year struggle for national independence."
Phu Thong Town is located on cross-roads linking Highway 3 and Road 258 about 18km from Bac Kan township. From Phu Thong one can go to Thai Nguyen and Ha Noi in the south, go to Cao Bang in the north or northwest to Ba Be Lake, a natural landscape recognised by UNESCO as world heritage.
The Phu Thong Post has been listed as the nation's historical relic site.
After joining the celebrations, Tho and his comrades visited the town's Thanh Temple in Phuong Linh Commune. It is a big temple, the most outstanding in the commune, and was built on the top of Don Dien Hill.
Nature's miracle: A section of Dau Dang Waterfall.
Legend has it that Thanh Temple was a place to worship a prince who was credited with stamping out gangs of robbers in the region.
During a duel fight with the rebels at the Na Phai field, the prince was killed, and his head fell into the Na Mo rice fields. Remarkably, his body still remained on his horse's back until reaching Don Dien Hill before falling off, Tho said.
Local people built the temple to worship him as a saint, while the court placed the temple in royal annals. Since then people call it Thanh Temple and an annual spring festival is held in the first lunar month.
Tho and his comrades burned jossticks to worship the saint and then continued to visit Na Hai Hamlet's Quan De Temple to worship General Duong Tu Minh who was killed after fierce fighting with the enemy.
After these places of historical interest, Tho and his comrades visited Bac Kan's beautiful Puong Cave and Dau Dang waterfall. Tho said many of the landscapes around the cave were still virgin country compared with 65 years ago when his army pass through.
Puong Cave is located on the Nang River in Ba Be District, about 5km from Cho Ra Town.
Tour guide Nong Thi Thu said that the cave was about 300m long and 30m high with many colourful stalactites. She added that the cave had been formed when the Nang River ran through the Lung Nham limestone mountain millions of years ago.
There are many bats living in the cave. They have become acquainted with visitors.
Tho said he was excited when his boat floated through the cave on the Nang River.
Thu said many travellers consider Puong Cave a giant shark opening its mouth to swallow dug-out canoes that follow each other downstream. From the mouth of the cave, visitors can see strong men casting their nets as if in a water-colour painting created by nature.
She told guests that after passing through the mountain, the Nang River flows down to Hua Tang Hamlet where it is blocked by hundreds of giant stones to create Dau Dang Waterfall.
"We've escaped from pollution and noise in the big city to swallow ourselves in such natural surroundings," Tho said, sitting on a large rock to enjoy the beautiful views and canoes full of Tay girls wearing indigo costumes floating along the river.
Tho's friend Lai Van Hoan said he was interested in enjoying chien, a type of fish which weighs up to 10kg and is a speciality of the region.
Hoan said its taste was quite different from other species.
"I've never eaten such delicious fish." He asked the tour guide to buy him several kilograms of the fish for his wife at home.
"Next time I will invite my parents and my wife to the region to enjoy the natural beauty," Hoan said.
Tho told Viet Nam News that the trip was unforgettable for him and his comrades because they were now elderly and may have no chance of making another visit.
Party time: Ethic girls join Ba Be Spring Festival from the 19th to 21st days of the first lunar month.
The last leg of their journey was to the Cho Don Safe Zone, one of Viet Nam's most outstanding revolutionary bases.
The site is among relics of the Viet Bac revolutionary base where the resistance forces worked out plans to end the French colonialists in Viet Nam.
The resistance war against the French ran from 1945 to the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
President Ho Chi Minh had chosen Cho Don as an ATK (Vietnamese abbreviation for "Safe Zone") together with others such as Tan Trao in the nearby province of Tuyen Quang.
These areas became consolidated political, military and economic hubs pivotal to the national revolution of August 1945. They have been declared historical treasures by the Government.
The Cho Don ATK was located in Bang Lung Town in a district of the same name. Last Monday it was alive with flowers, banners and flags to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the August 1945 Revolution and the National Day, September 2.
Tho and his comrades were moved as they proudly remembered the past glories and struggles of the nation. "I'm happy to come back here after 65 years. The province has changed remarkably," said Tho.
The Director of the Bac Kan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Cao Sinh Hanh, said the province received hundreds of visitors a day and that the Government planned to invest billions of dong to upgrade its historical relics.
"We then expect to welcome double or triple the number of visitors in coming years," Hanh said.