A slogan written on bomb fragments
The ‘ecological war village’ was built with an aim of showing visitors the destruction of the war and its effect on the lives of local residents during that time.
Lien’s war village is located in Nghia Ninh Commune, seven kilometres from Dong Hoi City. He planted a flagpole at the village’s gateway, where a stele marks major events during the American War.
Starting from a bomb crater, visitors are guided across Ba Da Stream over a pontoon bridge made from oil drums.
Walking along a tree-lined trail, visitors can see a wide range of bomb craters.
On the top of the hill stands a house with a monument to those who lost their lives in Quang Binh during the war.
In order to collect the names and addresses of the dead, Lien had to wander cemeteries nationwide to gather the information, in addition to confirming the accuracy of what he got by sending letters to the myrtars’ hometowns.
A ‘war-time village’ has been set up in the forest, including low-roofed houses that are encircled by grapefruit and orange trees.
The village is surrounded by curved trenches. At the village’s gateway, there is a slogan written on bombed debris, “Chien dau gioi san xuat cung gioi”, literally “Fight well and produce well”.
Going through the trenches, visitors have a chance to discover underground artillery placements, A-shaped vaults, subterranean wartime temporary hospitals and classes, as well as downgraded Soviet bikes that were equipped with a light to facilitate doctors in conducting surgery.
Lien has placed an altar inside the hospital to commemorate medical workers who died. There are also several packs of rice to recall the voluntary contribution made by residents in Quang Binh.
Inside the temporary classroom are desks and chairs, which are designed like those used during the wartime. There is a stele in the corner of the class which contains names of teachers who died.
A bamboo house acted as a nursery and a nearby secret bunker resembles meeting rooms for party and army officials to discuss tactics.
With his memory of the war, Lien acts as a tourist guide. He attentively explains every small detail in the museum to visitors.
Obsessed by the war
Born in 1942 in Hanoi, Lien came to Quang Binh when he was 19. He acted as a medical worker from 1961 to 1970.
After reunification, he returned to Hanoi and worked for the National Institute of Acupuncture for 30 years but remained obsessed by the war.
He decided to visit the former battlefield in Quang Binh in 1992.
He came up with an initiative to build the ‘ecological war village’ after talking to several local residents in Quang Binh and realising that many knew little about the war and how people had to live.
He embraced the idea for years and discussed moving to live in Quang Binh when he retired in 2003 with his wife, but she wasn’t supportive.
He then sold his family’s house in Hanoi at VND2 billion (USD95,831) and spent half of the profits on buying a 10-hectare hill in Nghia Ninh Commune, a land in the western part of Dong Hoi for the village construction.
Trenches inside the village
Lien and his granddaughter