Dong Hoi Bimble

Dong Hoi Bimble
 
 
 
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 We got up this morning and watched the sunrise and fishermen preparing for the day.
 
 
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After breakfast we went to explore the town after looking at the fishing boats and one of the huge nets, slung ready to be dropped. Just one pole is pushed over and the whole thing drops and is left for several hours. Pole back up and a chap waggles the net and stubborn fish that don’t drop into the collecting bit in the middle get helped by hand.
 
 
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On the High Street a florist gave some welcome colour against the usual grey.
 
 
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The shop offered plastic and glass flowers too.....
 
 
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One of the prettier side streets had a great fruit market. We bought apples, pears and a watermelon for our next train journey.
 
 
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We crossed the road, our digs far centre and saw the Tam Toa Church, a symbol of defiance.
 
 
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We began our circum-ped of the fenced and locked ruin. On the fence was a sign in Vietnamese but inside was one in local and English.
 
 
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The marble tablet reads: War Evidence of Tam Toa Church Steeple. Tam Toa Church was constructed in 1886 and demolished by the bombing of American aggressor air planes on February 11th 1965, at present, there only remain steeples and foundation, this is an evidence of war crime in the sabotage air attack operations of American aggressor in the North (in the period 1965-1972). (War evidence of Tam Toa Church steeple was ranked by Quang Binh Provincial People’s Committee in accordance with decision no. 143/QD-UB on February 26th 1997). Mmmm and now for the other bit of the story........
 
 
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Tam Toa is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Vietnam, dating back to the middle of the 17th century. The authorities ranked “the church bell tower as a historic relic and as war crime evidence that should be strictly protected and rehabilitated to make it a visual tool for education of the young generation about the national traditions as well as a historic tourism site”.
Asia News reported on the 25th of August 2009 that: Bulldozers raze the Church of Tam Toa quashing Catholic demands. The government has decreed that the ruins of the ancient church will become a public park, having in mind to build a tourist park, and refuse to give it back to the Catholics for sacred use. Criticism from the bishop, who recalls the arrests, beatings, theft against the faithful by the police.........

.....Days earlier, on 17 August, Ngau Bui Xuan, vice president of the People's Committee of Dong Hoi issued a decree (No 137/TB-UBND) ordering the conversion of the church of Tam Toa in a public park......During the celebration on August 15, the Bishop of Vinh, Msgr. Mary Paul Cao Dinh Thuyen, 83, expressed his sorrow at police violence against Catholics.

 

 

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The report from the 15th of August read: The diocese’s requests for the return of the church fell on deaf ears, despite the fact it was the only one available to the faithful of the area, who had erected a crucifix and a tent in front of the ruins of the building for their celebrations. The authorities, on July 20, 2009 removed both cross and tent and the faithful were attacked and severely beaten. This episode was followed days later by an even more severe attack, with one priest ending up in coma. There were numerous arrests. The story sparked anger among all Catholics in the country.

Compounding the tension, were rumours of that the authorities were motivated in their decision by corruption and the possibility to use the land for a tourist resort.

Bishop and the faithful responded firmly. On August 15, some 200 thousand Catholics gathered around the Bishop, Thai Hop in peaceful protest. Now the provincial People's Committee had decided to grant land to the diocese, not where the historic church is, but in the city centre.

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We left the church and took in the surrounding park with its very well kept planting.
 
 
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Neat palm trees and a blue-lit dolphin fountain – a proper promenade.
 
 
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We had supper in a BBQ eatery, steak cooked in a griddle that a chap carried in and placed where a cover was in the centre of the table. Our frozen, skinny bits of beef skirt and a waitress appeared. She cooked and set about the meat with a pair of kitchen scissors. All a bit odd really. Back across the river, passing the lit digs, a classic building in front and to ours next door.
 
 
 
 
ALL IN ALL A MIX OF RELIC AND NEW, SCRUFFY AND NEAT
                     A GENTLE BIMBLE