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Surreal topography, unique architecture converge on Vietnam’s Cao Bang

Thursday, December 03, 2020, 15:40 GMT+7
Surreal topography, unique architecture converge on Vietnam’s Cao Bang
An aerial view of Trung Khanh District in Cao Bang Province. Photo: Nguyen Huong / Tuoi Tre

Visitors to the northern upland province of Cao Bang have more to choose from than the all-too-familiar Ban Gioc Waterfall or Nguom Ngao Cave, such as bizarre mountains, obscure topography, and the exquisite architecture of the area which also deserve just as much attention.

Towering in the middle of a valley, the Ngung Troong Mountain in Cao Bang’s Lung Phiac Village makes a surreal image as it allows visitors to see right through a gaping tunnel that pierces through to the other side.

The populace in Lung Phiac, primarily made up of Nung people, convey a sense of fondness and hospitality from the very first interactions with tourists.

Following locals through an off-the-grid, shrub-laden trail, visitors will be able to reach the mountain site.

Once reaching the hollow tunnel, which spreads up to 20 meters in height and 40 meters in width, tourists can witness the phantasmic figures created by rolling stalactites formed inside.

Another 'pierced mountain' in the locale can be found in Khuoi Ky Village, which is adjacent the well-trodden Nguom Ngao Cave.

The peculiar landscape feature also forms at Phja Piot Mountain or Mat Than Mountain in Ngu Lao Commune of Hoa An District, Na Man in the same commune, and a mountain in Nguom Giang Village in Trung Khanh District.

A cave in Ban Muong village is seen in this photo. Photo: Kim Cuong / Tuoi Tre

This image shows a cave in Ban Muong Village. Photo: Kim Cuong / Tuoi Tre

Tourists can also be seen flocking to newly discovered Na On Cave in Ban Muong in Van Trinh Commune of Thach An District.

From the outside, the cave looks like a wide-open jaw with stalactite 'fangs' jutting out from the upper dome.

These 'fangs' introduce more and more cryptic silhouettes to the visitors as they enter into the depth of the cavern.

Unique architecture

Standing atop the 2,000-meter-high Phia Oac Mountain in Thanh Cong Commune of Nguyen Binh District, the ancient French stone structure built in the early 20th century still preserves its old-time charm under the veneers of green moss.

Traces of vintage architecture can also be found at the ruins of stone houses in the valley at the foot of Phja Oac Mountain.

Several of the structures have seen their roofs collapse, while the others are left with just the foundations.

As visitors go deeper into the woods, other old-time lodges gradually reveal themselves.

These buildings were erected during the French colonial era in the early 20th century to provide lodging for French officials in charge of Cao Bang’s Tinh Tuc ore mine.

Phja Oac, a place close to Tinh Tuc with a cool atmosphere that mimics the European climate, was chosen as the ideal residence for French colonialists at the time.

The place remains brisk even in the summer, with chances to see snow in the winter.

Meanwhile, those who prefer indigenous legacy in architecture can stroll through Khuoi Ky Village in Dam Thuy Commune, where generations of Tay people have preserved stone stilt house structures which are traditional to the area.

Local people are still residing on the second floor of these houses, while the first floor is used to tie cattle and keep other livestock.

Other things in the houses, most notably the mills and chairs, are also made of stone.

Currently, several of the stone stilt houses have been remodeled into homestays, which can provide lodging for hundreds of tourists at a time.

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