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Old soldiers enjoy visit to central province

Update: June, 02/2019 - 08:51

 

 

Exploring: The natural and wild beauty of Hầm Hô tourism site. Photo hamhotourist.com.vn

 

By Hà Nguyễn

 

 

Bình Định is considered a paradise in Việt Nam’s central region for its many pristine beaches and islands as well as its cultural and historical sites.

They include Hòn Khô, Eo Gió, Hầm Hô, Phương Mai Sand Dunes, Cù Lao Xanh, the Chăm tower system, famous art of bài chòi (a diverse art combining music, poetry, acting, painting and literature) and traditional festivals such as martial arts and specialties of aromatic flavours.

Nguyễn Văn Chiến, a veteran in Hà Nội who had fought against US troops in Bình Định during the American War, said he and a group of his friends would celebrate the national victory on April 30 by touring the province to visit Hầm Hô in Tây Sơn District’s Tây Phú Commune.

Chiến’s friend, Huỳnh Long, said Hầm Hô is a location where the two rivers of Đồng Hưu and Cát meet the Phú Phong River. Along the riverbanks are blocks of stone and ancient trees.

Under the water are colourful granite stones, iridescent like diamonds.

The water winds through rapids, while birds sing overhead.

“It feels like paradise,” said Chiến, adding that streams in Hầm Hô are full of different fish, particularly during flooding season when many return upstream.

“During those times, I can catch 20-30kg of fish a day,” said Long, adding that travellers enjoy camping in the wilderness. They can grill đối fish or boil fragrant snails they catch from the water, accompanying the dishes with traditional Bàu Đá rice wine.

Late in the evening Long led the Hanoian veterans to stilt houses hidden among the trees.

The streams in Hầm Hô help cool the area during summer. When spring comes the location bursts with the colour of wild flowers.

During their stay in Hầm Hô, the group also visited Bình Định Museum, which display hundreds of images and documents relating to soldiers who died during the wars against the French and Americans.

Stories of heroes
 At the museum, Chiến and his group heard stories of many heroes including Ngô Mây (1922-1947), Võ Lai (1939-1968) and Trần Thị Kỳ (1947-1966).

 Museum curator Nguyễn Văn Lợi told the guests that Ngô Mây, from Bình Định’s Phù Cát District, joined the army in 1947. He was assigned to the company of Military Region 5. His company included 160 soldiers. They were equipped with 12 rifles, five bombs, a number of grenades and machetes.

On October 22, 1947, he bravely sacrificed himself after approaching French vehicles with a bomb. He killed a platoon of troops at the Rộc Dứa front about three kilometres from An Khê town, said Lợi.

He was posthumously honoured for his service in 1955. Many communes, wards, roads, and schools in the central region, carry his name. They include Ngô Mây Wards in Quy Nhơn and Kon Tum cities.

Apart from Mây, during the war against the US, the story of hero Võ Lai from Bình Định’s Tây Sơn District moved Chiến and his group.

“At 27, Lai had taken part in 48 battles,” said Lợi.
On December 16, 1965, his unit was marching to Bình Thuận Commune (a newly liberated area) to help locals improve infrastructure, Lợi told the visitors.

On December 18, the US bombed the area while troops invaded, killing many children and elderly people. Despite the danger, Lai and his unit occupied suitable positions and fight back against the enemy.

As a result, Lai’s company killed 376 US troops and grounded 10 helicopters, causing them to withdraw from the commune.

In April 1966, during a fight against South Korean troops on the Bình An front, Lai and his unit fought bravely against the enemy. Despite being severely injured, Lai was determined to stay with his comrades-in-arms until he died that day, said Lợi.

Lợi continued to tell a story of young guerrilla and nurse Trần Thị Kỳ.

Kỳ was the fourth daughter of a poor farming family. Seeing the enemy destroy her commune, killing villagers and liberation fighters, known as Việt Cộng, she insisted her father allow her to join the army although she was still very young.

At that time, many injured soldiers from surrounding villages were being carried to Tân Đức Village. To save the fighters, Kỳ was assigned to a quick nursing course. 

“She tried her best to help the injured soldiers. Thanks to Kỳ’s patience and efforts, many men recovered and continued to fight against the aggressors,” said Lợi.

One day in 1966, Kỳ was guarding injured fighters while they slept. On hearing a dog barking, she ran out and saw many South Korean troops marching towards the village.

She woke up the fighters and helped hide the patients in underground shelters. When all were safe, Kỳ returned to her own trench.

Unfortunately, the troops found her trench. They tortured Kỳ to find the location of the injured soldiers. However, the young woman resisted and took them to another location.

Discovering her deception, the troops burned her alive.

“Kỳ died at the age of 19. Her braveness is a model for us and the younger generation to follow,” said Lợi.

5.5 million visitors 

Bình Định chairman Hồ Quốc Dũng said the province aims to welcome 5.5 million visitors, including 800,000 foreign guests, next year.

“We have developed a number of special tours of the sea and islands,” Dũng said, adding that travellers will also have the chance to visit the province’s 200 cultural and historical sites.

Bình Định plans to restore Quang Trung Museum, the Chăm Tower system and Hoàng Đế Citadel, while promoting traditional martial arts and spiritual tours to Đàn Tế Trời (an altar dedicated to heaven and earth) and Ông Núi Pagoda, said Dũng.

He said the province also wanted to make use the International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE) established by overseas Vietnamese Prof.Trần Thanh Vân.

Each year the centre welcomes hundreds of scientists and researchers to discuss ways to boost science and technology in Việt Nam.

“Based on the success of this centre, we are building a scientific museum. It is hoped that these great tourism sites will lure more visitors,” he said.

In fact, Bình Định itself and leading groups such as Marriott and Anphanam have invested billions of đồng to upgrade infrastructure linking the airport to beautiful spots, relics and tourism sites.

As a result, visitors to the province have been increasing. Phù Cát airport has increased flights to 49 a week, double the figure of 2017. VNS


 

 

GLOSSARY

Bình Định is considered a paradise in Việt Nam’s central region for its many pristine beaches and islands as well as its cultural and historical sites.

Pristine means beautiful and unspoilt.

They include Hòn Khô, Eo Gió, Hầm Hô, Phương Mai Sand Dunes, Cù Lao Xanh, the Chăm tower system, famous art of bài chòi (a diverse art combining music, poetry, acting, painting and literature) and traditional festivals such as martial arts and specialties of aromatic flavours.

Literature means books and other publications and what is written in them for people to read.

Aromatic means to do with nice smells.

Nguyễn Văn Chiến, a veteran in Hà Nội who had fought against US troops in Bình Định during the American War, said he and a group of his friends would celebrate the national victory on April 30 by touring the province to visit Hầm Hô in Tây Sơn District’s Tây Phú Commune.

A veteran is someone who has fought in a war.

Under the water are colourful granite stones, iridescent like diamonds.

Granite is a type of rock.

Iridescent means sparkling.

The water winds through rapids, while birds sing overhead.

Winds, in this case, means following a path with lots of twists and turns.

Rapids are patches of rough water in rivers that are usually caused by obstacles such as rocks under the water.

“It feels like paradise,” said Chiến, adding that streams in Hầm Hô are full of different fish, particularly during flooding season when many return upstream.

Upstream means in the direction against which water is flowing in a stream or river.

They can grill đối fish or boil fragrant snails they catch from the water, accompanying the dishes with traditional Bàu Đá rice wine.

Fragrant means sweet and pleasant smelling.

Late in the evening Long led the Hanoian veterans to stilt houses hidden among the trees.

Stilts are poles on which houses may be built to keep them above the ground.

During their stay in Hầm Hô, the group also visited Bình Định Museum, which display hundreds of images and documents relating to soldiers who died during the wars against the French and Americans.

Images are pictures.

Documents are papers.

Museum curator Nguyễn Văn Lợi told the guests that Ngô Mây, from Bình Định’s Phù Cát District, joined the army in 1947.

A curator is the boss of a museum.

He was assigned to the company of Military Region 5.

To be assigned to a company means to be sent there to do a service.

They were equipped with 12 rifles, five bombs, a number of grenades and machetes.

Machetes are bush knives.

On October 22, 1947, he bravely sacrificed himself after approaching French vehicles with a bomb.

To sacrifice yourself means to give part of your life, or even your whole life, to a cause such as fighting for your country.

He was posthumously honoured for his service in 1955.

Posthumously means “after death”.

On December 16, 1965, his unit was marching to Bình Thuận Commune (a newly liberated area) to help locals improve infrastructure, Lợi told the visitors.

Liberated means freed.

Infrastructure is made up of the roads, railways, airports, harbours and so on that need to be in place for a country to work.

As a result, Lai’s company killed 376 US troops and grounded 10 helicopters, causing them to withdraw from the commune.

When aircraft are grounded they are not allowed, or not able, to fly.

When troops withdraw, they pull back or retreat.

At that time, many injured soldiers from surrounding villages were being carried to Tân Đức Village.

Surrounding villages are villages around a certain point.

“Thanks to Kỳ’s patience and efforts, many men recovered and continued to fight against the aggressors,” said Lợi.

Aggressors are people who come first looking for a fight or war.

When all were safe, Kỳ returned to her own trench.

A trench is a line dug into the soil where you can be safe from enemy fire.

They tortured Kỳ to find the location of the injured soldiers.

To torture someone means to harm them in a very cruel way in order to get them to say something or do something.

Discovering her deception, the troops burned her alive.

Deception means to fool someone into believing something that is not true.

Bình Định plans to restore Quang Trung Museum, the Chăm Tower system and Hoàng Đế Citadel, while promoting traditional martial arts and spiritual tours to Đàn Tế Trời (an altar dedicated to heaven and earth) and Ông Núi Pagoda, said Dũng.

To restore buildings means to repair them so they are like when they were at their best.

To promote something means to say good things about it so that it becomes popular.

Each year the centre welcomes hundreds of scientists and researchers to discuss ways to boost science and technology in Việt Nam.

Boost means improve.

“It is hoped that these great tourism sites will lure more visitors,” he said.

To lure means to attract.

In fact, Bình Định itself and leading groups such as Marriott and Anphanam have invested billions of đồng to upgrade infrastructure linking the airport to beautiful spots, relics and tourism sites.

To invest means to pay money into something in the hope of getting money or something else out of it later on.

Upgrade means improve.

Relics are things left behind from the past.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Bình Định was not affected by the American War.
  2. Ngô Mây joined the army seventy-two years ago.
  3. There is a place where the Đồng Hưu River and Cát River meet the Phú Phong River.
  4. People from Hồ Chí Minh City are known as Hanoians.
  5. Trần Thanh Vân is a professor.

 

ANSWERS: 1. False; 2. True; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True.

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