Doan Nguyen Duc, chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Corporation, has rejected all accusations made against his company of deforesting and appropriating land in Laos and Cambodia by the NGO Global Witness, calling them "groundless."
|Unspoiled Van Chai beach on Co To Island in Quang Ninh Province - Photo: Thanh Huong|
Beaches in the North are always crowded so the romance of nature seems to be lost. However, for beachgoers looking for somewhere relatively untouched, Co To Island’s beaches in Quang Ninh Province are the perfect spot.
East of Van Don Island, Co To Island District comprises dozens of islands on about 4,000 square kilometers. Among them, Co To Lon, Thanh Lan and Tran are three largest and most attractive islands.
To get to Co To, take an hour boat ride from Cai Rong Wharf, which is an hour and a half bus ride from Halong City. Though the cruise can be rough, it is worth taking to see the breathtaking limestone islands sitting like sleeping dragons on the water. These islands inspired a local legend.
Once upon a time, when Vietnam was invaded, the Jade Emperor sent a mother dragon with a herd of little dragons to earth help the people defend their country. When the enemy boats came towards the shore, dragons vomited thousands of pearls and gems that turned into stone islands to prevent the enemy’s approach. After defeating the invaders, the dragons did not return to heaven but stayed on earth. The place the Mother Dragon resided is now Ha Long Bay and the young dragons turned into the islands of Bai Tu Long Bay which contains the Co To island group.
After an hour on the boat, green, misty mountain ranges and white sandy beaches of Co To Island appear on the horizon.
The island boasts many beaches, of which the most popular is Bac Ho Beach, a long stretch of sand bordered by pine forest. A paved path winds along the edge of the sandy beach, lined with houses, shops and a market.
Van Chai and Hong Van are the two must-see beaches in Co To. Van Chai Beach is still unspoiled. Tourists can relax and play in the big waves and stay overnight in small bungalows. Hong Van beach is always quiet with small waves.
Bac Van Beach is known for the different kinds of coral that the authorities are trying to conserve.
At Co To, trek up to the lighthouse to take in a panorama of the whole island. On the way, there is a pine forest full of wild flowers and butterflies.
Tourists can take photos of many tamed monkeys on the island.
At the end of the day the sunset looks spectacular from the wharf as it sinks behind the mountains leaving a darkening purple sky.