When people mention traveling to Yunnan
, they may go to Lijiang
Ancient Time for the leisure time, to enjoy the landscape at the bank of Erhai Lake in Dali
or Explore the Tibetan culture and natural highland view in Shangri-la
. They almost do not realize the small town --- Hekou in South Yunnan Province, at the border between China and Vietnam. People could find various and quite different features of this border town. Some tourists coming here are keen on wandering in the border streets, picking a dazzling display of Vietnamese food and souvenirs. Some tourists like to take pictures along the China-Vietam Bridge. Then savor Vietnamese banhcuon at a food stand. If having enough time, many tourists prefer to walk across the border and walk around Lao Cai which is just across the river.
There are crowds going through the Cutoms at the China-Vietnam Bridge at 08:00 every morning. Across the Naxi River bank which is the borderline between China and Vietnam, Hekou us just facing Lao Cai and Gu Liu, which forms a Red River Delta. Walking along the bank of Nanxi River, across the lush banana trees at the banks, you could see the newly-built Vietnamese house and hotels along the river. Hekou is the gateway to Indochina and south Asian countries since ancient times. Besides, you could see many Vietnamese business and vehicles at Hekou port. They are busy in loading goods.
The China-Vietnam Highway Bridge is designed as reinforced concrete bridge with four holes, 3 piers and two stands. The bridge is 136.06 meters long and 15 meter wide. The Chinese side is about 61 merter long. It was opened on the 8th, Jan 2001. The bridge has become an important distritution center between China and Vietnam.
In Eighteen Yunnan Stranges, there is one strange that the railway in Yunnan does not go to the places in China, but runs abroad. The railway refers to Yunnan-Vietnam Railway, connecting Kunming and Hekou, extending to Vietnam. It is about 487 km long in total. The major feature of this railway is that the rail is only 1 meter wide. The French seized the construction and management right of Yunnan-Vietnam Railway in 103 year ago. This narrow railway has gone through the mountains and valleys of Yunnan, across Jinsha River, Pearl River and Red River over the years. The French footprints have been vanished garadually, except this railway still existing in the mountains of Yunnan. It stoped to transport passengers from June of 2003 and most railway stations along the railway were closed also. Stading besides Hekou port, tourists could see the railway crossing, but people are not allowed to walk across the Railway Bridge.
Hekou Culture Center
Hekou is the lowest point in Yunnan Province, with only 76.4 meters above the sea level. Therefore, it is warm and humid in the most time of the year in Hekou. Because of insects and historical reasons, the ancient temples and other historical sites do not exist. The relatively completely-preserved French buidling is the old supervision department and the old Customs. Ths old Supervision Department is a 2-story French building. It is now used as Hekou Culture Center. The building was painted pinkin the restoration a few years ago. The red-painted blinds and doors are kept original style. Some ceramic tiles on the 1st floor are kept as the same as those in a hundred year ago. The tiles are orange, gray and black, complementing the overall style of the room. It looks still elegent. The other French building is the old Customs, which is used as Hekou Uprisng Museum, displaying some artileries and other treasures left inside.
Hekou was built since 1869, when General Liu Yongfu commanded the Black Flag Army to station in Hekou. They stationed and built houses on the north shore of the river. The army contered the French army, but also traded with Vietnam by taking the advantage of the Red River waterway. . Then it is formed a market there garadually. Hekou was extanded after the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway’s openning. Nowdays, the China-Vietnam Sunshine Trading market and the nearby markets are called “Vietnam Street” as many Vietnamese businessmen have settled here. They are selling Vietnam coffee, slippers, coconut sugar and other Vietnam specialties. They can speak Hekou dialect. Therefore, you can not realize they are Chinese or Vietnamese.