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Hung Yen preserves ancient beauty, tranquillity

Tien Dung- Chu Dong Tu Festival in Hung Yen

In the 13th century, Pho Hien was known to traders as a busy river port establishment. Three centuries later, merchants coming from China, Japan, the Netherlands and Britain developed Pho Hien into a bustling economic hub. However, due to changes in the Red River's current and the silting up of port water, Pho Hien was land locked and became a small town.

Visitors can now still recognise the ancient architecture of Pho Hien, including 60 cultural and historical relics like Hien Temple, Mau Temple and the pagodas of Hien and Chuong. In the center of Pho Hien is a lake in the shape of a semi-circle, which was a popular market place for many years.

A series of programmes have been initiated to restore the ancient beauty and preserve the cultural and historical values of Pho Hien.

"We plan to preserve and develop Pho Hien, especially the old quarter," said Bui Xuan Son, an official from Hung Yen province's Department of Tourism and Trade. "We will restore Hien Temple at the river estuary, where ship owners usually offered incense and prayed for good luck back in the 16th century. We will also develop inland and waterway tours along the Red River, which will take visitors to the old quarter and other relics in Pho Hien."

Apart from their ancient cultural values, local people are proud of their longan orchards. Longan from Pho Hien has the name "caged longan", as the fruit is covered with a bamboo cage to protect the young longan from birds that would like to get at them first. The original type of "caged longan" is said to come from a unique "ancestral longan tree" at Hien pagoda. During feudal time, Pho Hien longan was reserved only for the Royal court. The trees are now widely grown in all the communes of Pho Hien, and are even found in schools and office gardens.

Nguyen Xuan Trieu, a local farmer, said the fruit has provided a good income for his family.

"Our particular type of longan is famous for its quality," said Mr Trieu. "Many longan farms are now eco-tourism areas with accommodation and catering services. Growing longan is much more profitable than growing rice. Each longan crop brings in more than US$5,000 per year."

He said local people wish to turn Pho Hien into an attractive tourist destination that features a harmonisation of modern and traditional characters.

VOV - (08/12/2004)

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