Results from overall study of the maps of Van Don port vestiges show that throughout the eleventh to nineteenth century there was only one route through Halong bay cruise overnight for ceramics and other goods from abroad in and out of Vietnam. And Halong bay by chance a became a vibrant border area with many ports, exchange points, and at some important places, the development of ports also brought with it the establishment of cultural and religious values. One of the typical place is Cong Tay island, in administration the island now belongs to Thang Loi commune, Van Don district, 40km from Bai Chai tourist wharf.
Cong Tay island
Cong Tay island, lying alongside Cong Dong island. On the map they look like a pair of bread placed in parallel northwest – southeast directions, the eastern angle of the absolutely protected triangular Halong bay, recognized by Unesco as a World Natural Heritage. Sandwiched between the two islands is a range of water, broad and deep, very convenient for parking and transport of goods to and from the islands. From here , boats can go smoothly into mainland or to the outside islands Quan Lan and Ngoc Vung.
In the past 40 years, through many surveys, researches and excavations, archaeologists have discovered along the both sides of the two islands Cong Dong and Cong Tay, numeous pieces of crockery, pottery from Vietnam and China dating back the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries. In the small gulves deeply cut into the islands there are thick layers of ceramics reveal these were the old trading ports of Van Don harbor system. In 2004 when Van Don old harbor was rated as a national historical site, the Ministry of Culture and Information originally granted certificate to Cong Dong island, people of island commune Quan Lan argued and the ministry has had to present another certificate with the same content to Cai Lang port of Quan Lan commune. This is probably a rare affair in the recognition of sites granted by the Minitry of Culture and Information.
Beside the vestiges of old ports, Cong Tay retains the traces of 5 pagodas and a precious tower built in the island under Tran Dynasty, the first excavation of pagodas in Cong Tay island was held by Vietnam Archaeology Institute for the first time in 1971. The researches and excavations afterwards made it clear that Cong Dong and Cong Tay islands used to be important places in the Van Don old trading ports in centuries, the exchange point of the “ceramic road” via Halong bay and center of Ngheu Phong district in the Nguyen dynasty with the name “Cong Dong eighteen communes” still exists today. The process of trading and exchanging goods is the basis for the introduction of religious buildings such as temples and towers to serve the needs of traders and religious people of the past East Sea. Many architectural relics of the temples, towers collected from Cong Tay island are being displayed at the Quang Ninh province’s museum like stone stele turtles, handrails carved with dragons, squirrels, bricks used to build tower inscribed “first floor, second floor”….
Located close to Ngoc Vung, Quan Lan islands and adjacent to Cong Do, the ultimate protected area of Halong bay, Cong Tay island has favourable conditions for the development of tourism. In addtition to the historical, cultural relics, nature and topography of the island is quite diverse and attractive. The Cam Pha Coal and Construction company has developed a fully equipped system of lodging, dining facilities for tourists right on the beach, a path covered with red tiles was built from guest houses to the beach, flanked by straight coconuts. Travellers can relax on the hammock under the shade of the trees, enjoy the sea , reading a book . Many travel companies have taken Cong Tay into their halong bay tours program, along with the islands of Quan Lan, Minh Chau , Ngoc Vung and Cua Ong Temple