Not only is Cao Bang famous for stunning landscapes like Ban Gioc Waterfall and Nguom Ngao Cave, it is also known for a long history associating with Vietnam’s revolutionaries and nationalists. One of the most well-known historical sites in the locality is Pac Bo in Truong Ha Commune, Ha Quang District, right on Vietnam’s northeastern frontier with China.
It is a place President Ho Chi Minh spent part of his life since his return to Vietnam in 1941 after 30 years – trip to find the way for our national salvation. He also chose the place to be a headquarters of Vietnam revolution movement between 1940 and 1945.
We went to Pac Bo historical site by a rented motorbike the day after. Riding a bike offered us more chances to enjoy the nature. Terraced rice fields and water wheels gave the landscape a poetic and medieval look. The fields were stunning still although harvests were over.
We reached the site after 1.5 hour driving, and first things we saw were the downstream of an emerald creek called Lenin and a greenery hill named Karl Marx. Following a path, we visited Coc Po Cave, which is situated on a cliff. The cave is so small with tiny simple things such as one wooden bed, one stone campfire and a stalactite that Uncle Ho named Karl Marx. Down the path, right next to the stream is a stone table which President Ho used as his “office” for writing poetry and translating texts. We also climbed to the milestone 108 where Ho Chi Minh first stepped his foot on his homeland after 30 years abroad. The path was rather steep, despite stairs, which almost killed us, but we made it to the top and it was totally worthwhile. We even walked for 1 km from the main site and crossed terraced fields to visit Khuoi Nam tent where Uncle Ho lived and worked for a while.
This place was a truly complex of history that told us interesting stories of Ho Chi Minh as well as Vietnam’s revolutionary progress. One drawback of the site is that no sign is written in English, which is difficult for foreigners to study Ho Chi Minh’s life or Vietnam’s revolution. However, Pac Bo site is still a worth – visiting place. It manages to induce a respectful mood while not forcing its significance on visitors, said a visitor and I totally agreed. All of the feelings I had about the site were gentle and comfortable. They were rather self-produced than being imposed. The site is by far the best commemorative attraction I have visited and one of the most engaging historical sites too.
One more thing that has made me fall in love with the site is its magnificent scenery. Pac Bo means “the start of a river” in local language, so the water of the spring was unbelievably pure that we could see through to the bottom. Resting by the creek after a long walk around the site, listening to birds’ singing, watching a buffalo eating grass and a group of ducks swimming around the stream, suddenly popped up in my mind a thought that whether the place was a paradise on earth. Is it where a person living in a busy city always desires to see and enjoy? Moreover, I realised how so deeply myself immersed with the nature that I could even feel a state of peace and freedom blooming inside me. It only happens when human beings combine and harmonise with nature, I know.
Cao Bang is truly a treasure of Vietnam. Beyond a trip, this time’s move is a journey to the root with beautiful tales and meaningful historic lessons, helping me understand my home country and myself better. It’s also the once-in-a-blue-moon trip that I pair up with someone as I often travel alone and I was glad that I went with such a down-to-earth partner (she should practice her moped driving skill though LOL).
May life needs such journey!