Ham Thuan Nam District

Once in Ke Ga lighthouse - (12/02/2015)

(Muinetourism.vn).- Ke Ga lighthouse is a tourist destinantion situated in Ke Ga island, Tan Thanh commune, Ham Thuan Nam district, Binh Thuan province. The lighthouse is about 300m far from the mainland and after 113 years since it was built, it still perfectly undamaged. There are many clusters of rocks and long-standing frangipani trees on this island. In Ke Ga island, only frangipani and casuarina can stand up to sea breezes and grow up well on sea sands.

Designed by Chnavat - a French engineer, the lighthouse was started to build from February 1897 and the construction was finished in 1899. Its high-capacity light has a range of 22 nautical miles (about 40km). After climbed up all 183 spiral steps, most of tourists will go through a small door to get to the balcony. From there, they can see the immense sea and the mainland with resorts along the beach.

Nowadays, the lighthouse is managed by Southern Vietnam Maritime Safety Corporation, with a staff of 6 people. When I get to the island, head of the station – Nguyen Van Sau and some others are not there, but two other members Luong Huu Phuc and Truong Dai Phuoc are on duty. Huu Phuc said that their chief was born in Quy Nhon (a city of Binh Dinh province), Phuc from Sai Gon (another name of Ho Chi Minh city) and Phuoc from Phan Ri (a toponym of Binh Thuan province). Other people are all from far provinces of Vietnam. However, they all consider Binh Thuan to be their hometown.

Luong Huu Phuoc, 39 years old, has worked there for 19 years. In our conversation, he several times mentioned that in many documents, the height of the lighthouse was 35m, but it is not true. Phuc said, the exact height from the foot of the tower to the light is 41,5m. And the lamp from France was stopped using since 2005, he added. The lamp they are using now is a U.S production, a solar powered halogen lamp that automatically works according to the external light brightness. When the sun is radiating, the light is automatically off, and when the night falls, the light automatically turns on.

Duties of the light-keepers is to manage, maintain the light and make sure that the it is working well. The lamp must not stop giving its light for over 15 minutes. If there are some problem with the lamp that can’t be fixed within 15 minutes, then they will immediately turn the spare light on.

Phuc tell me an old story: It was on a night many years ago, when sitting at the station, they heard some noise outside. After that, they found a wet, naked man on the island. He turned to be a fisherman. He took a false step when striding across to another boat and fell down to the sea. No one on the boats knows about that. It’s about 1km from the lighthouse to where he fell. And the boats just keep running. Alone in the sea, he swam to the island by looking at the light. Later, other seamen found out that he had dissappered and came back for him. The light-keepers gave them signals by a flashlight so the seamen came and pick him up.

Since tourism in Binh Thuan is developed, many tourists come to see this lighthouse, it turns to be a pleasure for our light-keepers meeting many people. But their greatest happiness is to complete the task of keeping the lamp to radiate each night, to help ships and boats safely go through this sea zone.

Translated by Hong Anh

(Source: Binh Thuan Online)


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