Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nghe An and Tuyen Quang Provinces – Famous for Beauty and Leaders

Nghe An and Tuyen Quang Provinces – Famous for Beauty and Leaders

Motorbike Collection
Following is a photo essay celebrating the creative use of motorbikes by the talented Vietnamese drivers! Below you can see “cargo” ranging from pigs, orchids, Tet trees, ceramics, building supplies, fabric – any and everything that is strap-able and can be balanced (talents!).

Tet flowers on the way to market.
What do you mean, big load?

Got anything more to deliver?

You are hogging all the space.

Delivering paper to market, paper is
a big industry in the forest area.

This little piggy goes to lunch and this one ...

Delivering ceramic ware.

Orchids for a celebration or just for beauty.

Murals and Mosaics
Both Hanoi and Vinh have GREAT art – Hanoi is home of the largest mosaic in the world created to celebrate the 1,000 years birthday of Hanoi. And Vinh greets you with a beautiful mural/mosaic at the airport.

Hanoi, city of a thousand years that they celebrated
in 2010 with the production of a several kilometers
long mural on their main city freeway.

Vinh's airport mural celebrating a visit to the
city by Ho Chi Minh City during the war in
a small two engine aircraft.

As we visited the area where Vietnamese leaders launched the 1945 revolution declaring Vietnamese independence, we saw the North's beautiful countryside, rural mountains and villages. Check out the following photos and captions for a glimpse.

Home made. hand made noodles at the market.

Ho Chi Minh's Childhood Homes
Nghe An Province has long been known for its smart people and leaders, so it is no surprise that Ho Chi Minh was born here. His family story is somewhat unusual in that his poor father was a great intellectual whose mentor and teacher was so impressed that he suggested the poor student marry the teacher's daughter and that the couple live with the teacher's family (usually the couple would have lived with the paternal family).
House where Ho Chi Minh's maternal grandparents lived.

First home of Ho Chi Minh.

Inside Ho's first home.
 Vietnam has lovingly preserved both the house of Ho Chi Minh's maternal grandparents and the next-door house built by these grandparents for HCM's parents where HCM was actually born. Both houses are typical architecture. When HCM's father passed his national exams, his paternal family village was so honored that they built HCM's father a new house close to his paternal grandfather's home. So HCM and his family then moved to the nearby paternal family village – which has also been carefully preserved. Surrounding both sites there are still the villages living daily routines so that you really get a feel of on-going village life while visiting these historic sites.
Ho Chi Minh's father's house built by his village
to honor his high scholastic achievement -- 2nd score
in the nation.

Another shot of the family's second home.

In the garden by the first home of Ho Chi Minh with
his maternal grandparents family. 

Tan Lap – Village of Revolution
While we were traveling to Tan Lap our guide mentioned that he had never been asked to take foreign tourists to see this historic site and alerted us that people in the area and Vietnamese tourists would probably be amazed to see two Americans. It's true that we were the only foreign faces and people were so friendly and welcoming, eager to share stories. The mountains, lake, hills and forests of Tan Lap are home to an ethnic group and ancient village that welcomed and supported the Vietnamese revolutionaries dating back to the struggle against the French as well as the USA. The landscape is incredibly beautiful and undeveloped even today (although lots of logging is taking place).

Ho's hidden mountain hut where he formulated plans for
the successfully defeating French colonial forces.

House where Ho Chi Minh stayed in the village.

Village meeting house, note the loud speakers used
for daily announcements and news.

House where General Giap lived and worked in the

Tan Lap Village of the local ethnic group
who hosted Ho, Giap, and the revolution.

Historic banyan tree.

Planting new rice just before or just after Tet.

Tea fields on the hills.
 The region is famous for tea. Under an old banyan tree (it was 300 years old before it finally died in 2008) General Giap announced the formation of the People's Army. Along with other revolutionaries including at times HCM, plans were made here to form the new, independent government of Vietnam in 1945. Before the old banyan tree died successful grafts were made so that the old stump is now surrounded by newly-growing trees to make this historic site. The village houses where General Giap and HCM lived as guests of the resident families still stand and are occupied today. Later HCM successfully evaded the French by living in a small hut nearby and directing the on-going war against the French colonialists. It was amazing to be able to see the areas where these great leaders lived and worked – hiding in plain sight with the support of the people and villagers of the area.

HCM Trail Museum
When we first read about this museum, it was described as being located south of Hanoi. Our experience driving to the museum is that Hanoi has rapidly grown and developed to now spread out to the museum. We passed impressive construction of the Hanoi monorail along with lots of TALL buildings and skyscrapers.
Mono-rail construction

Entrance to the HCM Trail

Statue honoring the soldiers of the trail.

Scaling cliffs along the Trail with

Carrying heavy loads over rock, water
and any obstacle.

Pack Elephant.

Famous hero woman who carried
a load of 70 kilos when she only weighed
about 45 kilos.

Rope ladder used on the Trail

Meetings on the road, this one with General Giap.

Bridges made of any available material to
get supplies to the troops in the south.

Communications equipment used on the Trail.

Camouflage over the Trail to keep moving day and
night under threat of USA bombing.
This museum is an amazing tribute to the bravery, tenaciousness, brilliance and creativity of the Vietnamese to patiently construct, defend, maintain and expand a network of land and water routes the entire length of Vietnam to transport troops, distribute food, provide health care, transport and mobilize weapons, build a fuel/oil pipeline and construct an elaborate and effective communications system which supported the revolution for independence and socialism. We thought we knew a lot about this effort – and were WRONG! Both the museum exhibits and an amazing DVD and diorama/diagram provide incredible facts, materials and stories to bring this impressive accomplishment of so many Vietnamese people alive. Our tour guide added his own father's stories as a HCM Trail soldier to what we learned form the museum.

The people, history and land of Nghe An and Tuyen Quang Provinces will stay with us forever! We hope many of you will get to explore here as well.


  1. Great photos and commentary! Herb

  2. I( HAVE BEEN TO Vietnam six times and never the area of tan lap...your pictures are great...m=next trip I will add this adventure to the schedule. It is
    a beautiful country and on the whole they welcome us and are proud to show their history. I am glad you have a chance to see this country. Jane Hallinger