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In the 19th century, the Lao Cai area served as fighting ground for various armed groups, among which the famous Black Pavilions and White Pavilions. These gangs of plunderers had taken refuge in the mountains of Vietnam after the Taiping rebellion in China.

A little history

In the 19th century, the Lao Cai area served as fighting ground for various armed groups, among which the famous Black Pavilions and White Pavilions. These gangs of plunderers had taken refuge in the mountains of Vietnam after the Taiping rebellion in China. Their main purpose was to control the shipping trade on the Red River. Sea salt from Vietnam, opium from the Yunnan province, new rice, fabrics, manufactured goods were to be their primary objectives. Between 1850 and 1886, the town of Lao Cai was taken, destroyed and fortified several times by different groups.

On March 30th, 1886, Colonel de Maussion and his troops arrived in Lao Cai. Their objective was to pacify the area in order to create a stable border with China and to open a trade route to China via the Yunnan province. The French wanted to be the first to reach Yunnan before the British managed to open a trade route starting from Burma. At the time, the French thought that Burma would be a new eldorado, especially because of its luxury silks and ore reserves. As of the 1910s, Lao Cai made it possible to control the opium trade, from which the colony derived the best part of its resources. For this purpose, the Foreign Legion set up military posts in Bat Xat, Muong Khuong and Bac Hà and militias were created in the villages. Until 1945, then again from 1947 to 1950, the town was administered by a French resident.

Traditionally, the shipping trade on the Red River has always been done by sampans capable of carrying up to 12 to 15 tons of goods, which sailed from Hanoi to Lao Cai in 35 days. In 1898, China granted the French government the right to build the Yunnan railway. The first works started in 1901 and the railway track reached Lao Cai in April 1906. The overall cost of the project was 78 million gold francs for 384 kilometres. The railway line cost the lives of 12.000 Chinese and Vietnamese workers and 80 Europeans.

In 1913, the road from Lao Cai to Cha Pa was but a mule track, only practicable on foot or on horseback. Today’s paved road was not marked out until 1924. As of 1925, the connection was established between the road and railway networks. At 9:00 p.m., the traveller could board the train in Hanoi and got off nine hours later in Lao Cai, after which a two hours’ drive took him to Cha Pa. The trip back was just as easy: leaving Cha Pa at 5 :00 p.m. one was back in Lao Cai at 7 :00 p.m., in time for a meal at the Hôtel de la Gare before boarding the night train at 8:30 p.m.

Author : www.traveltosapa.com

Create date : 16-06-2010 12:30:45



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