Mentioning La Reunion to a non-French person and you'll either get a blank stare or something like "what meeting point are you talking about?" Be that as it may, La Reunion holds a special place in the heart of the Vietnamese for it was here that one of our emperors mysteriously met his tragic end.
|Mafate: A UNESCO World Heritage site.|
In 1907, emperor Duy Tan was only 7 years old when he became the 11th emperor of the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam. Unwilling to live a life in luxury as a puppet emperor for the French, he tried to organize a rebellion to liberate his beloved country. Unfortunately he was betrayed and captured by the French authorities in 1916.
Since executing the young emperor would turn him into a martyr and spark a revolt, the French sent him into exile to the most remote corner of their empire: the island of La Reunion.
|The green field of tamarind trees.|
During World War II he joined the Free French Force to resist the Vichy Regime and became lieutenant-colonel under General Charles de Gaulle. It was said that General de Gaulle talked to Vin San, the ex-emperor about returning to Vietnam to reunite the country for possible independence (similar to Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia). Unfortunately his plane disappeared on his way home to Vietnam in 1945 and the great hopes of many died with him as the country once again was torn apart by a senseless war for the next 30 years.
|Beautiful black sand from the volcano.|
The first thing a visitor to Reunion will notice is how green it is: all kinds of shades of green undulating as far as the eye can see, lined up countless flowing angel hair waterfalls, accentuated from time to time vivid red or pink flowers...a multicolour diamond necklace glittering under the sun.
|The highest point of Reunion (3,070m).|
White clouds dot the horizon, moving leisurely across the sky, stopping here and there to visit the surrounding high peaks. Suddenly, a sweet yet delicate fragrance perfumes the air, stirring long dormant memories of one's youth as whole fields of frangipanier flowers came into view, revitalizing the already pure air with musky almost honey taste. A symphony of singing birds greets the visitor at the end of the day or early in the morning.
|Le poses at one of the popular points on the Mafate trek.|
Indeed, the best impressionistic tableau can only by painted by mother nature: no mortal artist can have access to such a palate of infinite shades of that colour of life. Surprisingly one is never saturated by so much stimuli to all of one's senses. On the contrary, your body and soul are soothed by a feeling of deep satisfaction as you relishingly immerse in such beautific surroundings, so much that you may never want to leave....
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