In the 1980’s, Galang Island suddenly became famous. This island was a topic of discussion in the United Nations since it became home to thousands of Vietnamese boat people, refugees who left their country following the Vietnam War. They came here by boat in alarming conditions. 40 to 100 refugees travelled cramped into one small boat. They floated for months in the South China Sea without any clear destination. Many died in mid ocean, but others managed to reach Indonesian territory including Galang Island, Tanjung Pinang, and nearby other islands. The United Nations and the Indonesian Government made Galang a temporary safe haven before refugees were processed for ssettling in other countries. Many Vietnamese in America, Europe and Australia, still keep grateful memories of the time when they finally found some peace on this pretty island, with its white sand beaches.
Here were built houses of worship, a school for their children and a cemetery to bury the dead. At present, this ex-refugee camp is a tourist site.
By visiting this camp, visitors are brought back to the past tragedy, when thousands of Vietnamese left their home country to seek protection elsehwere. Visitors can see a church and a temple built during that era, which are still well-maintained and can be used by tourists.
On Galang visit the Vietnam Village, site of the former refugee camp of the Vietnamese Boat People Village who arrived here between 1976 and 1996. See an exact replica of one of the small boats used in 1975 by hundreds of Vietnamese refugees to cross the seas to escape a homeland fraught by civil war. The Quan An Tu Monastery, built in 1984, is the island’s most visited attraction.