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The plates of heaven

(No.9, Vol.6,Nov-Dec 2016 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)



Photo: Pham Manh Tuan


Beautiful and legendary,
the Sea Cliff of
Stone Plates captivate



The landscape of Tuy An has always been so inspiringly picturesque that even the paradise dwellers chose the place for poetic recital parties. They brought countless number of precious plates and gold cups to this shore line for the heavenly indulgence. Once, after one such godly pleasure time, they flew away to find more beautiful places. Suddenly, the stacks of plates and cups turned into rock poles.
That is one of the three legends about the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates at An Dong Commune, Tuy An District, Phu Yen Province.
Along the 3,000km shoreline of Vietnam, there are many world-renowned beaches such as Lang Co, Danang, Phu Quoc, and mesmerizing perilous rocky protrusions like Co Thach (Binh Thuan), The Queen (Binh Dinh) or The Jumping Rocks (Quang Binh). But the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates is the only rock formation recognized by the Vietnamese government as a National Natural Treasure.
From Tuy Hoa city downtown (Phu Yen Province), we went 31km north on 1A national highway to Ngan Son fork, turned right to a two-lane road and went 13km more, and there it was, the illustrious Sea Cliff of Stone Plates.



Photo: Nguyen Minh Tan



Underwater at the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates
Photo: Nguyen Minh Tan


From a distance, it looked like a colossal bee hive hidden in a desolated bay. Wave after wave rushed on it with open arms as if for a tight hug, and then broke into dazzling white foam. Washed and cleansed by sea water for millions of years, the black rock piles shine bright under the blazing sun.
Official records say that the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates field is 200m long and 50m wide. Seen up close, the piles are actually stone pillars standing up straight side by side as if planted. Almost all the pillars have flat pentagonal or hexagonal of almost the same size, about 30cm in diameter, like stacks of dish plates. Perhaps that’s why local people call this natural rock formation the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates.
‘They are arranged by heaven, so tidy,’ 76 year old elder Tinh, who lived near the cascades, exclaimed.
Indeed, compared to the rocky reefs lining the deeply blue bay, the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates look even more impressive. According to the scientists, about 200 million years ago, volcanic activity oozed lava into the sea. The sudden change of temperature caused the lava to harden and crack, creating the miraculous formation.
In recent years, the otherworldly beauty of the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates has attracted not only a lot of tourists, but also photographers. The unusual rock formation and the continual subtle change of colours and light caused by the waves and the sun make them feel unique.
‘Nowhere else does the black colour look as majestic as these rocks in the first rays of dawn. And strangely, at dusk, the plates shine pink. It’s fascinating to see the vigour of the ever-moving silver mane waves melt away when meeting the silent Sea Cliff of Stone Plates,’ a photographer named Trung said.

By Ngan Ha
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