PHAN RANG BAY
AQUATIC PARADISE IN A HISTORIC LAND
Phan Rang Bay in southern Vietnam is formed by a vast lagoon and protective coral reef, making the bay an ideal playground for kitesurfers and water sport aficionados. Bordered by the sumptuous Nui Chua National Park, the lagoon is one kilometer wide and ten kilometers long, offering a flat sea of shallows in its center and sensational waves – the largest in the country – around its crown. This relatively unknown windy site is located in Panduranga, the last Champa kingdom, powerful kingdoms whom ruled the center and south of present-day Vietnam for centuries.
During a stay in the quietly luxurious Amanoi, explore this historic land formed by a Mediterranean-style semi-arid coastal plain and adorned with vast reddish granite headlands and intimate beaches. Enjoy kitesurfing with a professional coach or on your own in this exceptional spot, which enjoys almost constant wind throughout the year (intensifying from November to April), whether you are a beginner or a professional kiteboarder wanting to perfect your “aerial” or “backloop”
© Photo credit: Toby Bromwich
HE VANISHING CULTURE OF
The foundation of Austroasiatic societies, a rây is a temporary slash-and-burn field, usually non-irrigated and planted with wild rice. Shifting cultivation along with the forest fallow cycle, a rây is created from the forest or bush, then burned out. Also called
by some Proto-Indochinese – themselves known as
– râys can be found at altitudes up to 1,200 meters, covering steep slopes, surrounding hamlets and villages, or forming geometric areas inside the forest.
A rây is generally used for seven or eight years, then recovered by bamboo forests and secondary forests. The rây is prepared during the dry season: first, a forest parcel is chosen and an initial sacrifice offered to honor the forest spirit. Then, the trees are cut about a meter above the ground, the undergrowth is cleared, and a fire is lit, leaving the ground covered with ashes. After a second sacrifice, mountain rice is sowed with the help of long sticks, then harvested between May and June. Sacrifices are also offered at the end of the harvest, especially to
Much care is devoted to the râys, and they are often protected by animistic objects, fences, bamboo, scarecrows or old utensils suspended from ropes and whose sound is supposed to drive away pests, wild boars, deer, wild elephants, and birds. Before the harvest, temporary huts are built or restored so that the farmers can keep a close watch on the precious parcel.
Today, with the disappearance of South East Asia forests, villages regrouping and various prohibitions, the culture of rây is vanishing. A few remaining ethnic communities can be found in Upper Sékong, in the Phu Sang range in Northern Laos, and in parts of the Annamite cordillera
A MEGALITHIC CIVILIZATION
IN UPPER LAOS
Upper Laos – Northeastern Laos, Houaphan and Xieng Khouang provinces – is one of the Indochinese peninsula’s most mysterious regions. This is a long-isolated land of shining limestone ranges, vast forests, and mighty rivers. It is known for the ancient megalithic civilization that has left a treasure trove of jars, funeral stones, monoliths and menhirs scattered across the land, as well as the mysteries surrounding certain episodes of the American Secret War in Laos.
From 5,000 B.C. and 800 A.D., the region was ruled by an enigmatic Proto-Indochinese megalithic civilization, most likely Khmuiques (Austroasiatic). Researchers believe that it was at the center of a vast trade network, allowing the emergence of a flourishing protohistoric civilization that venerated monoliths, menhirs, tumulus, cairns, sacred stone circles and other artefacts similar to other megalithic civilizations in Arabia, Africa, Europe, and Northern and Southern America. An opulent city likely stood not far from Bang An (Phongsavan Site N1), a wooden ephemeral city where princes and slaves built monoliths and jars, and tirelessly fashioned argil, sandstone, and granite. Today, jars and stone fields can still be found in various places on the Tra Linh plateau at the center of the region and beyond – along the Nam Khan and Nam Ngum Rivers, on high ridges, along ancestral trade routes, on the sides of Phu Bia mountain, the Isarn plateau, and in Northern India.
There are various theories for how the jars were used, including as rice storage or fermentation tanks. Most likely, they served as monolith funeral urns, receptacles for cremated remains, or a means of decomposing bodies. The jars were made of various materials: sandstone, limestone, schist, granite, and a long-forgotten composite of crushed stones, sand, clay and honey. They were a range of sizes and weight, varying from 600 kg to six tonnes.
Upper Laos can be explored from Vietnam and Pu Long, Luang Prabang or Vientiane. The most notable sites are N1-2-3-16-23-25-52, the stone fields of Hintang (Sankongphan and Keohintan), and Lima Sites 85 and 20A
PHU PHA THI - LIMA SITE 85
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY & EXPLORATION
THE NATURAL RESERVATION OF PU LUONG
AN IDYLLIC BIODIVERSITY REFUGE
Pu Luong is a natural reservation located on the karst mountain range of Tam Diep in northwestern Vietnam. Land of White-Thai and Muong, this cradle of life shelters the second-largest population of Delacour’s langur (one of the world’s most endangered primate species) in Vietnam after the natural reserve of Van Long. It is a sanctuary of biodiversity scattered with medicinal plants and abundant fauna and flora closely connected with the Cuc Phuong National Park, home to over 1,100 species of vascular plants and about 600 species of animals including 51 rare species.
Pu Luong Home
, a cozy Muong traditional house on stilts nestled against a jungled mountain slope surrounded by tender green waterfalls of rice. Explore the picturesque landscape scattered with Thai and Muong hamlets, lush orchards, sparkling fresh water streams, and misty forests of giant tropical trees. Observe the abundant wildlife and learn about the unique irrigation systems – the
– that channel water from mountain streams. Then, continue your adventure to Sam Neua, one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Laos, and follow the trail of Phu Pha Thi mountain (Lima Site 85), infamous during the Secret War in Laos
Secret Indochina was established in 2011, following the encounter of two professionals, Tran Quang Hieu and Nicolas Vidal, passionate about authentic travel. Secret Indochina, DMC branch of Amica JSC, strives to lead travellers to outstanding sites, magical places, and little-known ethnic communities
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