Ong Can Islet, a territorial milestone marking Vietnam’s sovereignty, in Binh Dinh Province offers visitors an exciting journey of discovery as reflected by an experienced travel blogger.
Ngo Tran Hai An has spent the past 19 years traveling across Vietnam and the globe. An recently conquered Ong Can Islet, or landmark A9 on the baseline of Vietnam’s territorial waters. Previously, he had conquered landmarks A3, A4, and A5 on Con Dao Archipelago in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.
“I hope my story can help spread the spirit of patriotism and pride for Vietnam’s borders, territories, and islands,” An said.
Binh Dinh Province in south-central Vietnam is famous for Ghenh Rang and Ky Co beaches and Eo Gio Cape, with few people aware of Ong Can Islet.
On recommendation from a close friend, An reached out to Tinh, who lives in Nhon Ly Commune of Binh Dinh and works in tourism, informing him of his desire to visit Ong Can Islet. Tinh told An the weather was unpredictable this season, the winds strong, and that there were many reefs surrounding Ong Can, making it difficult to reach by boat.
But An and his new friends in Binh Dinh decided to go there anyway. Their group included many “excited” locals who had never set foot there either.
At 1 p.m., the boat left the port amid a strong breeze and waves 2-3 meters high. From Eo Gio Cape, the group crossed to Co Islet.
“The further we got, the stronger the wind. A big wave lifted the canoe up into the air, scaring the occupants as it slid back into the water,” An recalled.
About 15 minutes later, the vessel reached Ong Can, comprising three islets about 200 m apart, with landmark A9 located on the furthest.
As the boat approached, everyone was stunned, An said. In the middle of the immense ocean stood a giant rock of over 20 meters in height, caressed by crashing waves.
An old sea dog, canoe driver Tu finally navigated to shore, allowing the group to safely disembark.
An reached landmark A9 after scaling 20 stairs. According to archival documents, Ong Can Islet was formed due to volcanic eruption millions of years ago, as the lava flow encountered ocean water.
The islet is located at 13°53’57 ″ North, 109°21’08″ East, about 7 km east of the shore, about 140 km south of landmark A8, and 170 km north of landmark A10. It forms part of Nghiem Kinh Chieu Islands in Nhon Ly Commune, stretching over 200 m with its widest area about 95 m across.
Not far from the landmark lies a national coordinate point built by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, along with the Department of Surveying and Mapping in June 2017.
Ong Can Islet plays an important role in determining the width of Vietnam’s territorial waters under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
After 30 minutes, with wind speeds accelerating, the group returned to their boat.
“I am proud to have conquered the 10th of 11 landmarks on the baseline of Vietnam’s territorial waters, and hope to conquer the last one on Con Co Island (central Quang Tri Province),” An said.
The canoe circled the three islets once more before heading back to shore to avoid the incoming storm.
Photos by Ngo Tran Hai An