Under the bright sunshine of the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago, the soldiers, who are defending Truong Sa Lon, Truong Sa Dong, Da Tay and Phan Vinh Islands, were excited to receive us. They shared with us the happiness and optimism of their life on the islands. On each island we visited, we witnessed a great zeal and strong vitality of these soldiers and local people with their simple aspirations for a new bright future. We were left with a long-lasting impression.
Having lived and worked on Truong Sa Lon Island for over three years, Pham Gia Huy, a soldier and a teacher, has a special attachment to the place. In each lesson, he bequeaths his love for the islands and the pride of a rich, beautiful Vietnam to his students. On the day of seeing off his beloved student, Quynh Huong, who left the island for the mainland to go to school, Huy quietly stood near the sea for hours, looking towards the mainland with both a sad and happy feeling.
A reunion on the island. Photo: Phuong Hoa
The temple dedicated to President Ho Chi Minh on Truong Sa Lon Island. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
Soldiers on Truong Sa are prepared to protect Vietnam’s sea sovereignty. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
A plot of vegetables grown by soldiers on the island. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
Going fishing on Truong Sa. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
Happy to visit Truong Sa Lon Island. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
The children on Truong Sa Lon Island. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang
Saying goodbye to our beloved Truong Sa Archipelago. Photo: Phuong Hoa
Here, we also visited many local people, such as the families of Chung Tinh and Nguyen Thi Hoa. We witnessed the meeting between the soldiers and local people with their relatives from the mainland. We were so moved to see the happy tears, smiles and the love of mothers for sons; the love of wives for their husbands. All of them showed the belief of the mainland in the islands.
The life on Truong Sa Lon Island now is similar to the life on the mainland thanks to modern infrastructural facilities. It has a telecommunications network to contact the mainland, a solar electricity network, a commemorative house for President Ho Chi Minh, a monument to the soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the country and a sacred pagoda.
Time passed quickly and we had to say goodbye to the soldiers and local people. However, the sweet memories of the island and the images of the soldiers and local people will live forever in our mind.
Story: Bich Van - Photos: Tran Thanh Giang - Phuong Hoa