26-Jul-2005 -- After the incomplete 19N 102E in Laos, we have spent 3 more days enjoying the pure air and quiet atmosphere of the old capital – Luang Prabang. However, sadness and disappointment of the failure still chase us over Cau Treo border to Vietnam. When our bus back to Ho Chi Minh city is going to pass by 17N 107E, the idea of visting this historic confluence flashes in Duc ko’s mind. Immediately he tells the others. We all come to the the decision of paying a visit to 17N 107E without just a second of reluctantcy.
We drop at Dong Ha town, Quang Tri province at 4.30PM, 25th July. With the gifted diplomacy of Pvnguyen, we solve most of our issues such as accomodation, food, transportation fast and smoothly with a good result.
We manage to rent a big nice room for four of us, with a beautiful panorama view, right at the downtown of Dong Ha, at a reasonable price. We also find out a delecious restaurant near our hotel. Needless to say, we enjoy our dinner enourmously. After one week in Laos, we miss Vietnam rice and cuisine. And now it is time to fulfill our tummies with chilli-citronella-roasted lobster and eel.
At 7.00AM of Tuesday 26th July 2005, we rent 4 motorbikes and head north to Ben Hai river. After France’s attempted recolonization of Indochina was defeated on 7th May 1954 at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ, Geneva accords was signed at the Geneva Conference. According to Geneva accords, Ben Hai river and 17 paralell was chosen to be temporary military border. Vietnam was partitioned into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, pending unification on the basis of internationally supervised national elections to be held in July 1956. However, that temporary border existed more than 20 years. Only after the Great Victory in 1975 and Vietnam was officially unified and independent, that temporary border was officially abolished.
From National Highway 1A, before approaching Ho Xa, we turn left to a provincial road which, seen on the map, leads very near to the confluence. We follow that way and the distance is down and down. When we are still 500 mts far from the target, we decide to leave 4 motorbikes driver waiting and wandering. We start walking. Although there is another way for motorbikes, still we do not opt for it. There is a saying among GPS club that the last 500 mts toward the confluence is always the most difficult and the most interesting. We do not want to break that formula. We eagerly climb some fences, hurriedly walk on the uneven paths and pass by a grave yard. Then soon we are right here at the historic confluence -17N 107E.
The scenery surrounding 17N 107E has changed a little bit since the first visit of Brian Schinazi in July 2002. Three years ago, the confluence seemed to be in a plain land without planted trees. It is now in a young eucalyptus garden.
We succeed after all. See you, the next confluence !