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According to an ancient tale, the Vietnamese people arose from a marriage between Lac Long Quan, a sea dragon and Au Co, a northern mountainous princess. Au Co bore Lac Long Quan 100 children, half of them followed their father to the sea and the other half settled down in the high mountains with their mother. These magic children, says the legend are the forefathers of the Vietnamese people-a race with the mountains and the sea in their veins.

 

As this legend tells, Vietnam's past is entwined with that of it's huge northern neighbor (it's now China). In the 2nd century BC, northern invaders conquered the Red River Delta, establishing a 1,000 year-pattern of foreign control and Vietnamese revolts. While Chinese culture had a profound impact on Vietnam, Vietnam's national identity remained stubbornly intact, sustained by tales of against-all-odds resistance. The most famous revolutionaries of this era was the Trung Sisters', two women who led a successful rebellion against the Chinese in 40AD. When the better equipped and bigger in quantity invaders returned and defeat was inevitable, the two heroines threw themselves into a river in order to avoid being detained by the rivals.


 

Self-sacrifice, tenacity and a fierce national pride have allowed the Vietnamese to gain independence, fighting off many waves of northern invaders, French colonialists and the Americans.

In Vietnam, this heroic past infuses the present. Whether you visit the crowded shrines devoted to 13th century generals, tour museums detailing the bravery of the colonial-era freedom fighters, or crawl through the a dozens of kilometers long underground tunnels digged by the Vietnamese soldiers in order to serve as a military base to fight against the Americans during the Vietnam War, you will feel the astounding strength of it's fascinating history.

 

 

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