Seeing me looking forward and carefully preparing for the trip, a friend wondered: “Why is everyone who can go to Truong Sa also in an excited mood, different from such usual trips?”. I thought for a long time about this question, then explained that the trip to Truong Sa was a “once in a thousand years”. As a reporter, who in life does not want to go to a place where history and current affairs are still painful for hours? My friend nodded, but I still wasn’t satisfied with that answer of my own. It wasn’t until I returned that I knew what made me the most proud when I came to Truong Sa.
The blue sea is far away. PHOTO: PHAM THU NGAN
With a passion for the lake, right from university, I have traveled and almost set foot in provinces and cities across the country. Sometimes I go with my friends, sometimes with my family and sometimes I just carry my backpack on the road alone.
I used to admire the majestic mountain scenery and appreciate the golden canola flower season when “trekking” (long-term walking – a form of outdoor adventure tourism – PV) in Lao Cai. I was immersed in the fresh atmosphere, faintly smell of coffee in Gia Lai. I used to love running along the coast and spending hours watching the sea on windy summer nights…
But going to Truong Sa is different.
With Truong Sa, I often think of it as a sacred place of the Fatherland.
Dawn on the remote island. PHOTO: PHAM THU NGAN
Remember, I once fell asleep in the lecture hall when I woke up because of the words of a teacher: “If you are still sluggish and bored with your life and class time, ask yourself what What are the people at the “head of the wave and the wind” who are facing life and death every hour, every moment?
That open question, over the years, still exists in my mind every time I read news about the East Sea, about Truong Sa, where many stories and information of Vietnamese people are interested. And there, there are certainly stories of those who are “in front of the storm”.
“This trip will be very different,” I thought to myself.
The force of the KN-290 ships to transport delegates to visit the island points
The ship KN-290 stood tall at Port 125 Navy Brigade. Around me, before the departure, everyone was fresh. I’m just as excited as they are. And what surprised me was that I was one of the two youngest members of the more than 200 delegates of the mission.
There are many first things I experienced when going to Truong Sa. And living on a ship, living with 17 other people in the same tiny room is also a first-time experience. At first, I thought it would be difficult for me to adapt, but in reality my room was “unbelievably fun”.
Everyone has their own personality, their own lifestyle, their own profession, their own region… We catch up with each other’s lifestyles pretty quickly and often call each other by the place of work when we can’t remember their names. The “nicknames” such as “Soldier’s aunt”, “Sister at Military Hospital 175”, “Sister in Binh Hung Hoa”, “Sister at VOH Radio”… were all throughout the journey.
Delegates do morning exercises on board KN-290. PHOTO: LONG HO
“Soldier aunt” Nguyen Thi Hieu is a history teacher for a high school and participated in the business trip as a visit to relatives who are on duty on Song Tu Tay island. “Aunt” Hieu shared the first feeling when entering this room 209 was… strange, surprised because only strangers, some of whom are reporters, singers, doctors, leaders of the Ward People’s Committee…
“I feel small and afraid of not knowing if I can fit in. But, after contacting, everyone is friendly, sharing sweet and bui. Sisters share with each other each piece of makeup remover, each piece of toothpaste. The words of MC Nguyen Hoang Nguyet Anh when I woke up in the middle of the night seasick: “Hieu, Hieu, please eat a little more. Drink water, Hieu! Warm, very dear, not strange”, “Soldier aunt” exclaims.
“Unity in times of need is something in every community. But that spirit of harmonious living of the Vietnamese people is something to be proud of. We always know how to forget our difficulties and differences in order to live in harmony,” said Ms. Hieu.
Cultural exchange about the journey towards the homeland sea and island. PHOTO: PHAM THU NGAN
Reporter VOH Radio Tran Thi Thuy Van is a colleague, living in the same room with me. I still remember the day I was in charge of the main radio station on the ship, I got seasick, she had to “take” the job of printing the script and reading the channel to me that night. Ms. Van also shared that it was also the first time she shared the same living space with so many people.
“At first, I was quite nervous, afraid of not being used to the collective environment. Not to mention, because I’m a PV, I’m afraid that my work might affect people. But then I don’t know when there was a thread connecting everyone. Maybe it was the times when we would sit together to peel fruit, share packages of vitamins and medicines …”, Ms. Van said.
It is the harmony of the members that makes me feel secure during the business trip.
Delegates took souvenir photos with the army and people on the large Truong Sa island. PHOTO: LONG HO
We were together like that, going through long nights at sea. Starry nights, we sat on the deck, singing soldier songs. At cultural performances, we put our arms around each other, raised red flags with yellow stars, shared our love for the country, the sea and islands.
I learned a lot from the trip to Truong Sa and the DK1 rig.
Maybe it’s my surprise when I see the majestic beauty of the sea and the sky, the nature of our country: clear sky, golden sunshine, blue sea.
It is possible that I understand and appreciate more the value of peace when I look at the silver waves one after another. And there are graves of many soldiers who sacrificed themselves… to protect the sovereignty of the sea and islands.
Trousers worn by soldiers on Nui Le B island. PHOTO: PHAM THU NGAN
I witnessed the lives of soldiers living in small houses on the islands, seeing only vast waves of water on all sides and understanding what is “the head of the wave and the wind”.
Soldiers holding guns standing guard the island. Their skin is dark because of the sun and the nakedness of nature. I saw the vegetable garden that the soldiers had to cultivate themselves. Seeing dogs always sad when they see people leaving the island.
I also heard and saw the nostalgia for people, homes, and families of cadres and soldiers on duty. Te Hanh’s verses in the song “The sound of waves” echoed in my head during the days at sea:
Then go to be more patriotic. Going to see our country, there are many beautiful things and need to preserve so much.
When I returned to the mainland, Editor Vo Tien (Newspaper) Electronic Youth), who told me about his trip to Truong Sa many years ago, asked: “Have you touched it?”.
I understood and guessed what Mr. Tien meant. Of course it is patriotism, love for the homeland, the country, pride in the sea and islands.
And above all is the responsibility, the loyalty to our country. I think, our life still has many fears, we are afraid of poverty, afraid of the unknown, afraid of death…
Soldiers and people of the large Truong Sa island said goodbye to the working group No. 9 – Ho Chi Minh City. PHOTO: PHAM THU NGAN
Before we spread our wings to the great ocean, we were afraid that we were incompetent, that we would not be able to protect our values. Fears and anxieties persist, day and night clinging to us before we commit.
But then, what will we be if we compromise with those fears? We need to overcome, if not to reach higher and more beautiful values, to connect, to harmonize with the people around us, then at least to discover and surpass ourselves.
Just look at the brave soldiers on that island, they put aside their own beliefs for a reason of life, a common ideal of the country, what does their fear mean?…