Rattan bridges still hold sway in remote areas

(No.8, Vol.3, Sep 2013 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

A bridge over Muong Hoa stream, Sapa. Photo: Nguyen Ba Ngoc

A suspension bridge in Kon Tum Province, Central Highlands. Photo: Tran Tan Vinh

A bridge over Muong Hoa stream, Sapa. Photo: Nguyen Ba Ngoc

There are many deep rivers and abysses in the mountainous areas of Vietnam, causing great difficulties for travellers, particularly during flood season.
Simple suspension bridges made by local people, though gradually disappearing, remain valuable to many in remote areas, particularly on Truong Son range and in the Northern Central Highlands.
The Xo Dang and Gie Trieng ethnic minority peoples in the areas are experts in the building of suspension bridges.
These bridges are usually made of rattan tied to large trees on either bank of a river. Rattan is abundant in the mountainous areas in Vietnam. There are suspension bridges made of rattan and tree branches that are as long as one hundred metres. Usually, the main frame of a rattan suspension bridge is made from two big rattans. Smaller ones and tree branches are used to weave them into something like a hammock. Many of them have become a popular place for villagers to gather to enjoy the shade of the trees and chat and play.

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