From: Wong kwok keong [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2016 7:05 PM To: ..
April 2015 Two weeks from Hanoï to the mountain valleys of Vietnam’s far north, home to ..
This laid back fishing town is the capital of the Kien Giang province and faces the Gulf of Thailand. The main part of town is on an island connected by four roads that cross the channel. Some of the tastiest and cheapest local food is sold on the northern end of Hung Vuong Street. Rach Gia is considered a stronghold of the Cao Dai faith.
It is almost worth getting up at 5 or 6 am to watch the boats come in from a night of fishing. The fishing docks on the sea side of the island are a hive of activity while all the fish are being sorted.
Soc Trang is situated on Highway 1 and makes for a perfect place to break the journey from My Tho to Ca Mau. With a 500 kg Vampire pig and a psychedelic pagoda to see, Soc Trang is well worth a visit to experience a bit of the bizarre side of life in Vietnam.
Soc Trang is the home to two fascinating pagodas. The first one is the Khmer Bat Pagoda. The grounds are spacious and serene and the pagoda is lovely. About 20,000 fruit bats with dog-like faces live on the grounds of the pagoda, and an individual bat can weigh up to half a kilo. What gives the pagoda a twilight zone appeal is the fact that the bats only live on the trees within the pagoda grounds, and they eat no fruit from within the pagoda. For surreal appeal there is also a five year old 500 kg Vampire Pig in residence. This Pig has five ‘toe things’ instead of the usual four and to top it off, the Pig has fangs which are really weird.
The second is Dat Set (Soil) Pagoda. This is a truly incredible pagoda boasting hundreds of statues made of soil. Even the building and pillars were once made of soil, but have since been replaced with more stable concrete. There is a huge dragon and a huge tiger statue that protect the gold mountain, whilst a lion protects the silver mountain. However the most intriguing part of the pagoda is the candles. There are four large candles, two of which have never been lit and stand at 2.6 m high, weighing 200 kg. The other two candles have been burning continuously for the last twenty years and are only half done. There are crazy multicolored flickering lights everywhere giving the pagoda a psychedelic Christmas feeling