General Vo Nguyen Giap’s rustic house by Kien Giang River
Every tourist to Quang Binh Province wishes to visit the house where the legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap was born and grew up. It is a plain house, sitting by the Kien Giang River in his home village of An Xa in Le Thuy District.
|The memorial house to General Vo Nguyen Giap.|
According to Vo Dai Ham, a relative of General Giap who has been taking care of the house for more than four decades, the original house, which was more than 100 years old, was set on fire and completely destroyed by the French in 1947.
After the country was reunified, the house was rebuilt to its original state on its former foundations. Since the house was made from wood, cogongrass and bamboo, it was damaged often by floods. Therefore, Ham suggested the leaders of Le Thuy District repair and upgrade the house.
The memorial house currently in place is a result of the local residents’ efforts in appreciation of General Giap’s contributions to the homeland.
Do Trung Tuan, a former vice chairman of Le Thuy District, recalled that Le Thuy leaders in the 1990s were aware of the importance of restoring the house and asked for the general’s opinion but he was slow to agree.
It was not until August 1999 when General Giap revisited his home village that he agreed on the format of the restoration and authorised his daughter Vo Hong Anh, on behalf of the family, to discuss with the district leaders on matters related to the house and the garden.
|The left compartment is for visitors to write in the tribute book.|
Tuan recalled the first task was to identify the style of the house. After that the local government hired a skilled carpenter named Dang Dai Mung who then took overall charge of rebuilding the house.
Vo Giao Su was assigned the task of designing the house. It took him a whole month, measuring each structure and seeking advice from Mr Mung to finalise the drawing, later approved by General Giap.
Back to An Xa Village, the local government chose a company ran by Dang Dai Trung, a grandson of Mr Mung for the construction work. Trung said “When selected to rebuild the general’s house, we were very proud. It was a great honour and we worked day and night and paid attention to every single detail so that the house could be completed in time and be identical to the former house.”
In early 2001, the house was completed along with restored furniture including a bookshelf, a reclining wooden board, a set of long chairs, a chest and an altar cabinet.
Inside the house, the middle compartment was set aside for the altar with a statue and a picture of General Giap as well as pictures of his parents. The right side features the reclining wooden board while on the left is the set of chairs, a place where visitors can write in the tribute book. Many pictures of General Giap with Uncle Ho and his comrades are hung around the house and agricultural tools typical of his homeland are neatly placed here and there.
|A starfruit tree at a corner of the house.|
When General Giap revisited his homeland in April 2002, he stood quietly, looking at the house for a long while, and then examined every article in the house and went around the garden. The general was moved to see the house of his childhood restored and almost identical. He shook hands with Le Thuy leaders and the workers who rebuilt the house and thanked them for their warm affection towards his family.
Visitors to the house are always welcomed by Vo Dai Ham, whose daily job is sweeping the house, burning incense, cleaning the memorabilia and telling stories about the talented general.
Ham cannot remember how many delegations and tourists he has received. Although having no experience as a tour guide, his simple and sincere storytelling has helped many have a better understanding about the life of General Giap.
|The open space in front of the house.|
The caretaker said Quang Binh has recently decided to expand the area of the memorial house to more than 3 hectares with work scheduled to begin on the 110th anniversary of General Giap’s birth so as to meet the expectations of local residents, helping them express fully their appreciation for his monumental contributions to the homeland.
An online exhibition featuring the life and works of late General Vo Nguyen Giap will open this weekend in Hanoi to mark his 110th birthday (August 25).
President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap are the two leaders who led the Dien Bien Phu Campaign to a victory on May 7, 1954.