Deep in the remote jungles of central Vietnam, archaeologists have discovered what has been labeled as Southeast Asia’s “longest monument” – a solid stone wall stretching an astonishing 127.4 km, through pristine rain forest and remote hill tribe villages, all completely unspoiled before expected imminent arrival of busloads of tourists.
Vietnam’s most exciting archaeological discovery in a century was announced earlier this year by Dr Nguyen Tien Dong, of the country’s Institute of Archaeology, together with Dr. Andrew Harvey of the École française d’Extrême-Orient.
The rampart, which winds its way across forbidding countryside from Qang Ngai province in the north, all the way to Binh Dinh in the south of the country, has generated huge excitement and is said to be the greatest engineering feat of the once-forgotten Nguyen dynasty, the last emperors of Vietnam.
Until now, the Quang Ngai region has held little interest for tourists in the country, with the exception of the site of the infamous My Lai Masacre during the Vietnam War.
The province has been somewhat restricted to outsiders due to the ongoing political sensitivity over the My Lai events, yet since the wall’s first discovery in 2005, Qang Ngai is slowly being opened up to tourism. More than a few travelers have already been to visit the wall independently since authorities announced its existence at the beginning of this year, and it’s expected that tour operators will soon be given the go ahead to start shipping eager backpackers by the busload into the area.
However, the government does at least appear determined to conserve the area. Plans are afoot for a protective corridor that will stretch for 500m along both sides of the wall, while camping in the area is not permitted. The downside of course, is that visitors will be unable to see the wall close up.
Anyone determined to see the “Long Wall of Quang Ngai”, as it is called, had better get a move on.