Dien Bien Phu

 

Mention Dien Bien Phu, and many will recall how the determined Vietnamese troops led by President Ho Chi Minh, won the decisive victory over the French.  Enduring over 56 days and nights of intense battle, it was at this last French stronghold that the Vietnamese army killed and captured some 16,200 French troops and destroyed 62 fighter planes of all sorts.  This historically important city, lying just 34 kilometres from the Laos border, is full of significant reflections of the triumphant march to independence in North Vietnam.  Some of the more significant battle sites are:



-          The A1 hill where some of the fiercest battles took place over 36 days and nights before the astounding Vietnamese victory on 7 May 1954.  

-          The underground office of General De Castries where he commandeered the French troops.  

-          The underground tunnel of the Vietnamese troops led by General Vo Nguyen Giap hidden in a secluded forest.

Dien Bien Phu is also home to many Black Thai ethnic people who are very skillful at weaving beautiful Thai cloth.  One contributing reason for such impressive weaving skills is because young Thai men look for potential wives amongst Thai ladies who weave well. Hence, young girls are taught the skills of weaving at a tender age to ensure that they are marriageable when the time comes.       

 

The road journey into Dien Bien Phu from Son La crosses over the spectacular Pha Din pass (1000m).  Be sure to stop and take in the thrilling scenery of mountain peaks and deep valleys from the top of the pass.

 

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