On the road to Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam

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The photo was taken while traveling on the road to Dien Bien Phu.  This “shop” goes from village to village in this remote region of Vietnam.

After staying in the Sapa region for a few days and visiting the popular markets of the minority people, we took the road to Dien Bien Phu. Why this city, lost in the middle of nowhere in the Northwest region of Vietnam?  Well, it is famous for being the stage of the last battle of the First Indochina War, the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ. This battle was significant as the Vietminh victory that ended the French involvement in Indochina and led to the accords which partitioned Vietnam into North and South.

This battle of Điện Biên Phủ is described by historians as “the first time that a non-European colonial independence movement had evolved through all the stages from guerrilla bands to a conventionally organized and equipped army able to defeat a modern Western occupier in a pitched battle.”

I’ve heard about this battle in history class during high school, and it has always been a special sounding name for me — although today, I wouldn’t be able to really explain why.

So, we took off from Sapa, driving through the mountain road and numerous villages towards Lao Cai, then onward to Lai Chau, Phong Tho and  Sin Ho, and finally to Dien Bien Phu.  This town is one of the most remote parts of Viet Nam, only 34 kilometers from the Laotian border.

I must say I was quite disappointed by the place, disappointed by the historical spots and places of the famous battleground.   Actually, very little still exist, and a lot of what we can see has been arranged for propaganda purpose.  We stayed there a couple of days, and continued our way into Laos.

In the following slide show, you can see a few pictures of the historical spots, meet veterans of the battle (it is the 60s anniversary of the battle and several manifestations and TV shows are being planned), and more.

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