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Travel GuideMonday, 09/11/2006, 09:28

It’s all made of gold 

For most people, the idea of visiting a gold mine to see real gold would be almost unimaginable, almost dreamy, since they are buried deep underground, preciously hidden far away from the general public

It�s all made of gold 

Visitors on the way to Bong Mieu Goldmine in the province of Quang Nam 

For most people, the idea of visiting a gold mine to see real gold would be almost unimaginable, almost dreamy, since they are buried deep underground, preciously hidden far away from the general public. However, Bong Mieu Goldmine is different, as the local authorities have decided to tap the tourist potential for those wanting to explore the land of gold.

Bong Mieu Goldmine is in Tam Lanh Commune, Phu Ninh District in the central province of Quang Nam, some 35 kilometers southwest of Tam Ky Town, not far from Hoi An ancient town.

Like with the lost tribes of the Incas in south America, gold was first discovered and exploited several hundreds years ago, but for mysterious reasons buried, like the gold itself, in the depths of time, mining stopped a long time ago. Then, in the 14th century Bong Mieu mine was reawakened and gold production restarted.

Moving onto the 15th century, the Nguyen Dynasty kings decided that gold was once again precious and so sought after, and reopened Bong Mieu, helping the region once again become a prosperous place. However, it was the French who realized the enormity of the value of the precious metal and who first started large scale exploration for the yellow metal in a large scale and professional way that enabled economically productive quantities to be recovered. Since then, Bong Mieu Goldmine�s reputation has spread far and wide and well beyond the national borders.

In order to make gold exploration a viable commercial activity, the French formed a company and built a dedicated road to link Tam Ky to Bong Mieu in 1890�s. And it would seem to have been a good investment, since according to historical statistics going to the end of 1939, the French exploited over 2,000 kilograms of gold from Bong Mieu.

History lives on and if one visits the mine, you can still see the remains of the original French factory works and offices, although time has naturally taken its toll on the condition of buildings, which none-the-less remain robustly intact and in reasonable condition.

Visitors are shown around and after having been introduced to an historical overview to the region, are guided underground for a peak at the bright shiny stuff. There are some 40 underground trenches that are around 18 kilometers in length built by the French, that still survive despite the ravages of time and tide.

When entering into the tunnels, visitors generally feel a mixture of curiosity and anxiety. But this dissipates as the shafts have since been equipped with safety facilities and the guides are well trained. Then it is off for a jaunt around the factory where the alchemists work their magic � but no touching!

Bong Mieu Goldmine covers 35 kilometers and is divided into four sections comprising Nui Kem (Kem Mountain), Thac Trang (White Waterfall), Ho Ray (Ray Lake) and Ho Gan (Gan Lake), so it can easily take all day to cover the entire goldmine. Therefore, visitors are usually only shown around the better, most interesting parts.

However, the factory is the most interesting place for most visitors, although unfortunately for security reasons, visitors are not allowed into the gold production area since, just like in any gold production factory anywhere in the world, there is always an �inviolable section�, unless perhaps they offer to stripe naked!

Whatever, a journey to the �Land of Gold� will certainly make an indelible impression on visitors. And quite apart from the goldmine, there is also the wonderful fresh air and exercise as well as the many gorgeous landscapes of the region to enjoy.

In realizing the potential for tourist development of the area, the Quang Nam Service of Tourism has recently teamed up with some local Phu Ninh District tourist agents to better exploit the service sector angle in addition to the well recognized industrial sector potential, which if forthcoming could see the mine become an attractive addition to the province�s usual My Son, Hoi An tourist circuit in the near future.


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