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History, culture and economy
Mui Ne means "sheltered peninsula," and indeed, is used as a seasonal harbor by local fisherman.This area was previous occupied by the Cham Kingdom, as testified to by the Cham Towers overlooking Phan Thiet. The towers were built in the 8th century to worship Shiva, and are said to be among the oldest in Vietnam. Beside these three towers, there was once a temple, but it has been buried in the ground for more than 300 years. There is now a modern pagoda beside them. Inside the main tower is an altar, on which a couple of Liga-Yoni sit. In Binh Thuan Province (where Mui Ne is situated) in 1306, King Tran Nhan Tong agreed to the marriage of princess Huyen Chan to King Jaya Sinhavarman III of the Cham Kingdom. The area is rich in local lore and superstition, with many stories of ghosts, fairies, local gods, monsters, magic and miracles, both ancient and recent.
In 1692, Nguyen Phuc Chu captured the area and named it Binh Thuan Dinh. The city of Phan Thiet is very new however, and the modern occupation of this area is only within the last century. Phan Thiet is the provincial capitol, and Mui Ne is more or less a suburb.
Lonely Planet Vietnam incorrectly states that during the French colonial period, Europeans lived in a segregated area North of the Ca Ti River (Phan Thiet River), while Vietnamese, Cham, Southern Chinese, Malaysians and Indonesians lived on the southern side. While Cham and Chinese individuals do live in the city, there are not currently any ghettos or active minority communities within Phan Thiet. However, just outside the city there are several little-known ethnic minority villages.
Binh Thuan province has 27 ethnic groups living together, including Kin, Cham, K'ho, Rai, Chan Ro, Nung, Tay. Minority peoples total nearly 76,000 persons and account for over 7% of the province's population. The ethnic minority people mainly inhabit 15 separate communes and 20 mixed villages. Eleven of the fifteen are mountainous groups with 2,669 households and 14,044 persons, and the remaining four are Cham with 3,623 households and 20,714 persons.
The ethnic K'ho, Rai and Chan Ro today carry out intensive farming. The average family works 1.5 ha Crops also include cashew, rubber trees, coffee, mango, lichee, orange, lemon, banana and dragon fruit. Binh Thuan has 6,500 ha of wet rice fields, 1,000 ha of corn fields and 3,000 ha of orchards. The electronic age has come to Vietnam's minorities as well. Among the minority groups, 68% of the households having radios and televisions.
Ho Chi Minh spent a year in neighboring Phan Thiet City. Duc Thanh School, cultural and historical relic, situated at Number 39, Trung Nhi Street, was built in 1907. In 1910, teacher Nguyen Tat Thanh (later President Ho Chi Minh) stayed and taught at Duc Thanh School for one year. Presently, the School has preserved many objects that relate to the life of life of Ho Chi Minh, such as a writing table, an ink-slab, and a wooden bed. The Ho Chi Minh Museum is next door.
Several military installations have existed throughout the province, inluding those at Thap Cham (the Prince's Castle) as well as a nearby hill, Whiskey Moutnain, LZ Judy near Muong Man, and the largest; the LZ Betty, held first by the French, later the Americans during the recent war. The LZ Betty was located on the bluffs SouthWest of Phan Thiet near present Ganh Son. There was an active air field at the base. LZ Betty was attacked during the Tet Offensive, and later a large battle was waged at the base on May 3 (See Our Links section for more information).
The city of Phan Thiet is the provincial capitol of Binh Thuan, with an estimated population of nearly 100,000 people. On November 28, 1933, Phan Thiet City was established as a French administrative center by the French governor of Indochina. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1998 and was officially upgraded from a town to a city in 1999. While these dates are noted in the historical annals, their importance should not be heavily weighted, since the city has been occupied for hundreds of years.
Phan Thiet is situated between mountains, rivers, sand dunes and the ocean. It has the lowest annual rainfall of just about anywhere in the country and a true desert region. Due to the low rainfall and cool ocean breezes, Mui Ne has some of the best weather in all of SE Asia. Mui Ne is just "over the ridge" from Phan Thiet, locked behind the sand dunes and pressed up against the sea.
The local economy depends upon Fishing (and most notably fish sauce or "nuoc mam"), agriculture (mostly green dragon fruit), and tourism. In what it does, it excels! Binh Thuan province is the world capitol of dragon fruit, produces the country's most prized fish sauce, and has 70% of the country's total resorts sitting on its beaches. According to local statistics, nearly 100 different varieties of fish are harvested here with an annual yield of more than 70,000 tons. Phan Thiet also produces about 16-17 million liters of fish sauce each year. Products are shipped not only around Vietnam, but throughout Asia, and may even find their way to your home country. Salt is also an important product (you can see may salt fields in Phan Thiet and South of Khe Ga). You'll find prices much cheaper than Saigon or Nha Trang here. People are also much more poor in this area.
On October 24, 1995, thousands rushed to Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, after scientists announced Binh Thuan would be the only place in Vietnam where people can perfectly observe a full solar eclipse. It is said that this is the day the tourist industry in Binh Thuan began. On the tenth anniversary of this event the "Binh Thuan Tourism Festival" was born.
Mui Ne and Phan Thiet are quickly developing. All the resorts and restaurants in Mui Ne are less than 10 years old. Mui Ne Bay is quickly becoming a new mecha for windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts in South East Asia. With perfect weather, lots of sunshine and wind year-round, Mui Ne Bay is perhaps the best spot for kiting in the region. There are a number of new and exciting projects in development that will change not only this area permanently, but will also benefit the entire country and this region. Stay tuned to this website to learn about these projects.