While choosing our hostel in HUE, our attention is especially focused on one of them for its attractive price (obviously) but especially for the impressive construction represented on the photo, yet, looking completely abandoned.
- What to expect ?
- The story of Ho Thuy Tien
- The calvary of Ho Thuy Tien's crocodiles
- Recommendations for a good visit of the park
What to expect ?
Soon enough, we realised that in a marketing effort, the hostess had chosen to illustrate her hostel with a photo of the activity that has become a beacon in the area, the abandoned Ho Thuy Tien Park.
The images were amazing and motivated by the curiosity, we asked around how to go there. The kind owner indicated us a point on google map, as easy as it, and recommended us to avoid the main entrance. Vietnamese guys, supposedly there to prevent visitors from entering the park, are actually making a business out of those curious fellows travellers by charging them an entrance fee. She recommended us going through the back of the park to avoid the corrupted guards.
We simply headed to the park on our motorbikes. We arrived by mistake right in front of the main entrance of the park. One of the two guards got up quickly and came to us while pointing out a very precise spot, on the side of a desert road, where he wanted us to park our scooters. He claimed 25 000 dong per person, in exchange of what he would look after our rides and afford to raise an arm to point out the obstructed path through the jungle that we had to sneak through, in order to reach the park. Too lazy to go around the park to find the free entrance, we gave away the 50,000 dongs. We also kept in mind, that the ridiculous sum of roughly $2 that was asked, for us Westerners, is not much, while this man probably improves his living conditions in proportions that we can’t really get, without having it changing anything of our day.
After 3 months spent traveling Vietnam, the little walk through the jungle is an orgasm for the ears and eyes. Silence, punctually interrupted by the song of a bird.
Eventually, the path widened and the decrepit dragon of Ho Thuy tien appeared through the trees.
Back then, we had no knowledge regarding the history of the park, and we simply started walking through, curious and excited by the impressive scenery, as disturbing and glaucous, as aesthetic and majestic.
Real urbex or urban exploration enthusiasts would be disappointed by the place that loses 18 points of interest from the very start of the visit, with the presence of a pair of Vietnamese posted on the lawn before the park’s entrance, selling snacks and drinks to the tourists. It was 9am, still early enough for the park to be empty.
As perhaps thousands of backpackers before us, we entered the site and took pictures of this atypical and particularly photogenic place. Later on, I documented myself about the topic.
Here are the sad information I gathered about the story of the Ho Thuy Tien abandoned water park.
The story of Ho Thuy Tien
Ho Thuy Tien waterpark project is worth 70 billion dongs, or 2 648 786.00 euros to be very precise. Originally under the initiative of a state enterprise, the park was meant to boost the tourism in the region of HUE, then only known for its majestic citadel.
In the year 2000, the site welcomed its first construction machines on the 50 hectares of lake and jungle, near the town of Huong Thuy, a few kilometres from HUE.
Following a pressure from investors, in 2004 the park only half completed opened its doors for the customers to deal with buildings still under construction. Without surprise, this trick did not pleased the visitors whose attendance decreased gradually.
Long story short, the project passed from hands to hands with always the burning hope of saving its life, but the successive attempts of resurrections made it suffocate even more. The aquapark is disguised in an amusement park. A space flight simulator was born, then sculptures for a new artistic project.
The park lost its meanings and its investor’s money. The funds were no longer sufficient, some attractions began to crumble down before the end of the construction.
The agony will last 7 years, in 2011 the park can finally rest in peace. It was never finished. Everything was left behind. The place seems way more to have been evacuated suddenly due to a lethal gas leak rather than for any financial reasons.
Perhaps a toxic danger would have been a reason good enough to have forgotten 3 crocodiles on the spot. The park is now in the hands of Hue Commercial Investment Group Company, which apparently does not want to respond to requests for comments made by some journalists.
The calvary of Ho Thuy Tien's crocodiles
When the park closed down, 3 crocodiles were "forgotten" in an aquarium inside the dragon, main building of the site. According to the testimonies of several backpackers who met the poor captive reptiles during their visit to the abandoned park, they were contained in small pools and could barely move in the stagnant and stinking water.
As being trapped in an abandoned premises of a dilapidated structure, in the dark, without any sunbeams, was not enough to shape the plight of these poor animals, an Australian backpacker reports having seen locals throwing bricks on the crocodiles in order to test the resistance of their tough skin.
But how did they survive under such conditions? It is impossible for me to know how long the unfortunates have been stuck in hell, it is however easy to know how. Locals and backpackers kept the poor creatures alive by bringing food that they were throwing in their pool. Finally, among the influx of tourists, some contacted PETA which transferred the crocodiles in poor condition to a wild animal park in northern Vietnam.
How long have they stayed in this decaying trap? Apparently long enough to meet up with a lot of backpackers. Among them, Courtney Lambert, a freelance writer, who wrote an article named « We Fed the Abandoned Crocodiles of Ho Thuy Tien ». In her text, she explains that she heard about the abandoned crocodiles from the mouths of other backpackers who had fed them alive chickens. Concerned by the fate of these animals in distress she decided to do the same. She went on the spot after the purchase of a living hen that was stuffed into a plastic bag. The poor bird, probably terrorised, had been transported to the crocodile's pool where she ended up thrown into the stagnant water before dying in atrocious suffering, crushed alive by the jaws of a crocodile. The blogger then gratifies us with a tearful Shakespearean paragraph to describe her feelings, facing this terrible scene, « The whirring feathers — « a life to save another » — Then she took Care to write about the crocodiles condition to PETA, something that must be done when witnessing animals being neglected.
As the blogger points out herself, feeding 3 crocodiles an alive chicken, appeals criticisms. Why was the fate of this hen hierarchically more negligible than the crocodiles’ ? She has been released from a very crowded cage where she couldn't move to end up eaten alive. It's actually even slightly worse than what happened to the crocodiles.Twisting her neck sounds like the minimum amount of courtesy required in this sordid situation. But, twisting a neck isn't exactly easy, is it ?
Therefore, this person had been brave enough to bring food to the crocodiles, and did something to get them out of there, where many others failed too.
How many people have seen these crocodiles and yet didn’t do anything, believing it was not their duty ? How many remained seated idly, fuelled by indifference, wallowing certainly in a morbid fascination at the sight of these poor beast macerating in their juice ?
It is sad to come to the realisation that the reaction of Courtney and some other guys who Wrote to PETA, is not to be taken for granted from humanity.
Recommendations for a good visit of the park
Photographers, curious of all kinds or travellers in love with incongruous sceneries, here is a site which is worth it. As pointed out in the indochinaodysseytours article: The site is more and more popular.
Ironically, the place finally begins to work out now that it is abandoned.
Clearly, it means 2 things:
–Showing up early in the morning not to miss the real purpose of such a visit : the thrill given by the exploration of a creepy abandoned place where you can be the main (And only) actor of your own horror movie. This will also prevent you from getting all your photos spoiled by someone’s half head, or a group of tourists in the background.
We arrived there at 9am, we had 20 minutes of loneliness before a pair of backpackers joined us silently.
Cautiousness ! The site is abandoned and entering is officially prohibited. The buildings are not being taking care of and will eventually no longer stand. Driven by the trust generated by the presence of other visitors, one could easily forget that the park is an untrustworthy ruin. Therefore, from what we've seen, the site still has time before it crumbles down.
It depends on the visitors that this site remains standing as long as possible You must be respectful of these places for future visitors by not breaking the windows or damaging the walls. It would be just great to remain master of yourself and contain the ardors and frustrations that led to compulsive overflow in places that laws no longer govern.
Real urban exploration enthusiasts often share beautiful pictures of abandoned places, such as the excellent David De Rueda whose photographic work is impressive, but they do not reveal their location. Thus, these places remain protected and overall, desert. It is difficult to find an authentic abandoned site, it requires researches and a little investigation, while you just have to google Ho Thuy Tien to find it.
This site is known thanks to word of mouth but also because of the power of the geolocation on our social networks which transform a pretty rock by the sea, in a 5 euros entrance fee privatised site.
I found the place relatively unspoiled for the numbers of visitors that have walked its floor through the years. The windows are broken, graffiti and tags cover almost all the walls surfaces and it smells of human urine in the slides but when you look at the pictures of the site from a few years ago, the place is almost even.
Bring a photo of the park with you, and spot the differences. New stuff collapsed? Has the jungle thickened around and in ? Any new penis ?