Conquering Khang Su Van mountain

Thursday, 2020-01-23 11:07:44
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Young people capture the moment as they stand beside the highest landmark of the country.
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NDO – Located on the peak of Khang Su Van Mountain at an altitude of nearly 3,000 metres, Vietnam – China border landmark No.79 is the highest of its kind in Vietnam.

Each time, each route

Landmark No.79, which is managed by Vang Ma Chai Border Station, is located at an altitude of nearly 3,000 metres on the saddle area of Khang Su Van Mountain in Lai Chau Province. It takes all day for even border guards to reach the top of the mountain; meanwhile it takes two days and one night for the average person.

Tuan Hoang, a tour guide who regularly takes tourist groups to the highest peaks in Vietnam, said that his team conquered Khang Su Van after three days and two nights due to the very bumpy roads. He has climbed up to the mountain peak nearly a dozen times; however, he had to take many different paths because the trees were overgrown such that it was difficult to find the previous roads.

On the first day, visitors start from Pa Vay Su Communal People's Committee to the 1,800m peak of Khang Su Van with the forest of tsaoko cardamom fruit, which was considered the most beautiful and largest in the northwestern region. Unlike tsaoko cardamom forests in Lao Cai, the trees began to grow on the mountain at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. The typical tropical forests are still kept on the paths to the top of Khang Su Van Mountain.

Passing through the forest to the top of Khang Su Van Mountain.

Lieutenant Colonel Dong Duc Trang, a political officer of Vang Ma Chai Border Station said that the ancient tea trees along the mountain paths are a typical specialty of the locality. However, they have not been reasonably exploited. A pilot project to produce clean tea is being conducted in Pa Vay Su Commune.

For the two days of following the 30km road, visitors will have interesting experiences such as standing under a powerful waterfall, wading through cool streams, passing through the fruitful tsaoko cardamom forest, and lying on dried leaves to see the faint sunshine through the leaves on the trees.

Cling to the rocks

The distance of nearly 10 kilometres on the second day is really difficult. The path through the deep forest is steep. Visitors even have to cling to the tree roots to swing over large rocks on the way. Within the last 100 metres to the top of Khang Su Van Mountain, there are the marks of the bamboo sticks that were placed into the road by border soldiers to avoid stepping into mudflats after rain. In high and cold places like that, only border soldiers strive to live and stand each day, each year.

Difficulties in Vang Ma Chai

Vang Ma Chai Border Station manages the 14.3 kilometres of roads with many landmarks. The soldiers must walk to several of the landmarks, they even have to pass through neighbouring communes with an added 20 kilometres to patrol others.

Vang Ma Chai Border Station is located in the middle of the valley, the most wonderful place for visitors to chase the sunset. However, pointing at the sun, Lieutenant Tran Nghi said that was the most difficult path. He still remembers the hardships during the construction of the granite landmarks here as he had to carry cement and sandbags on his back. Once the landmarks were inaugurated, they had to carry materials to build houses for the local people, helping them to stabilise their lives.

In Vang Ma Chai, 34% of households are poor. Deputy Secretary of the Vang Ma Chai Communal Party Committee Bui Van Huy is also a border official who has lived in the locality for ten years. The sentiment of the local people has kept the Muong ethnic border guard from Hoa Binh. He has always listened to and understood the feelings and aspirations of the people. “I strengthen communication with the locals, and always fulfil my promises. It would be terrible if I broke my promises with them”, Huy said.

The stories of the cement and sandbags that the soldiers carried to construct the landmarks, about the difficult paths to the villages in deep forests, and about tea trees, will be remembered forever. The border guards have devoted their lives to the country’s landmarks.