Phong Nha – Ke Bang : Historical culture (Part 1)

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Phong Nha – Ke Bang has many spectacular cave systems, which were discovered by chance several centuries ago and given many different names. Among countless number of small and big caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang area, Phong Nha was known earliest and most.

>> About Phong Nha – Ke Bang Part 1

Where it began

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In history, Phong Nha cave, according to Dai Nam marshal, has another name, Thay Tien cave or Nui Thay cave. The mountain that has Phong Nha cave is called Tien Coc. Phong Nha has been explored and investigated by many explorers and scientists. At the end of 19th century, a French priest called L.Cadiere came to Phong Nha cave not only for sightseeing but also for researching and investigating. In a dug-out canoe, Cadiere went into the cave about 600m. There, he discovered an extra passage on the right and remains of an altar and Champa words carved in the cliffs away from main passage 20 m. In December 1899, in the letter sent to Monis Firot – Director of Bac Co Far Eastern School, Mr. Cadiere wrote: “ The remains are valuable for history. Keeping it is useful for science”. After this discovery, with 97 letters carved in the cliffs, the extra passage was named Bi Ky grotto.

Later, another French called L.Pavis came to Phong Nha. After a long time of research, he discovered that on the right of the cave entrance, there was a brick alter of Chiem Thanh’s people re-plastered by An Nam’s people. In the old days, there was a stone statue on the altar, his legs were overlapped, there was a Van word in front, the ox-head turban covered the scarf of the neck. Pavis also found that in the branch of sub-cave, there is track of a brick altar; the brick is 27 cm long, 16 cm wide and 5 cm thick. The bricks are tiled in a cycle with diameter of 4 m.

In July 1924, an English astronomer called Baton explored Phong Nha cave during 14 days and nights. Baton commented that Phong Nha cave was beautiful as a maze not less than Padirac cave in France or cuevas del drac in Spain, the beautiful caves that are well-known in the world. In 1928, Antoni, a teacher of Quoc Hoc School in Hue and several French officials also explored Phong Nha cave. On May 24, 1929, based on guidance map of previous explorers, Charly, Pas Qualaggi and Bouffier (French) explored Phong Nha cave. The explorers prepared carefully for the trip. They prepared fuels, food, torch and a small electric generator. The diary of this explorer team wrote: ” The second day we were in the cave, on the both sides there were several rough stone of strange amazing and naive shapes with all colors of a rainbow, in which stand out light pink of Vatteau’s picture and blue of Raphael’s picture, celandine and pure coloring with dazzling bright red and never fade copper blue, all reflected in the water”.

The efforts of Vietnamese explorers

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In spite of not having enough conditions like French explorers, many Vietnamese explorers and scientists at that time paid attention to investigation and announced the results in some means of communication. Thai Van Kiem in his essay in French wrote ” La prememiere merveille du Vietnam: Les goste de Phong Nha ( Phong Nha cave – top ranking wonder of Viet Nam), which won the first prize in Indochinese youth general commission of sports held in 1942. It described Phong Nha cave: “… We entered the cave at 8 a.m. A splendid and legendary scenery appeared. A cold, profoundly respectful and frightened feeling came to us, while my heart was beating rapidly, we had a feeling of being in the center of a church, a train tunnel, or in other words, a gulf …” Geographer Le Ba Thao in “ Vietnamese nature” had an impression “… Phong Nha cave, the really wonderful thing is all shapes is still original. People who visited the cave had deep feeling like taking part in a real expedition when thinking that they are in the earth’s womb below a 800-900m high mountain”. Professor Hoang Thieu Son in “Vietnam’s green mountains and blue waters” contains the paragraph: “nowhere in the country is endowed with beautiful pillar rows like in this Water Kingdom. Two pillar rows occupy themselves vertically in the both sides of the cave.

To be continued…

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