Linh Son Pagoda in Dalat

Written by on 10/5/12 at 11:03 PM

Nestled in a gently sloping hill amidst a bustling Dalat City, Linh Son Pagoda is much like another world where people just hear sounds of rustling pine leaves and of wooden bells.

The way to the pagoda is different from others with some horse gnawing grass, unlike with noisy streets below with much traffic.

Seen from the outside, the pagoda is a simple Asian architectural work although it is the seat of the Buddhist Management Board in Lam Dong

Province and a Buddhist school. In comparison with other pagodas in the city, Linh Son is not as beautiful and poetic as Truc Lam Zen Monastery or as old as Linh Quang Communal House and Van Hanh Zen Monastery.
However, with elegant furnishings like a red-tile roof that looks striking amid the evergreen pine trees, and a pair of dragons in two gables, the pagoda attracts many pilgrims and visitors everyday.

The sanctum of the pagoda is highlighted with four big pillars decorated with parallel sentences written in Chinese. In the sanctum, there is a statue of Buddha sitting on a lotus flower made of bronze in 1952. It is 1.7m high and weighs 1,250 kg.

On the right of the building is the huge bell weighing 450kg and hung on the wooden frame. Behind is the temple of the Ancestors house dedicated to Dharma Buddha and the monks who died.
Many species of flowers and stone installations are also worth taking a look at.

Horses are seen in front of the gate of Linh Son Pagoda in Dalat City

A poetic view of a gable end of Linh Son Pagoda - Photos: Kinh Luan

A view of the sanctum of Linh Son Pagoda

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Rare treat for bird-lovers as storks flock to island sanctuary

Written by on 9/23/12 at 6:12 PM

For thousands of years, the popularity and beauty of white storks havemade them one of the cultural symbols of Vietnam but city residentsonly have rare opportunities to see them these days as they isolatethemselves in rural areas as urbanisation sets in.

 What are you looking at? Chi Lang Island has been quietly attracting bird-watchers.
 Birds of a feather: Thousands of storks gather on the island
 Motherly love: Storks generally leave their nests to seek food in the early morning. — VNA/VNS Photos Truong Vi
Fortunately bird-lovers from Hanoi can enjoy the sight of thousandsof storks gathered together on an island in Hai Duong Province's ThanhMien District, just 70km away from the urban metropolis.

Chi Lang Island has been quietly attracting bird-watchers – around15,000 annually – to this out-of-the-way part of the province since theearly 1990s.

December is well-known as a great time for bird watchers here as thechanging season heralds the arrival of tens of thousands of storks.

I pay VND20,000 (USD1) to join a boat ride with a group of others.Our guide, Nguyen Duc Ban, 68, says the island is primarily home to ninevarieties of birds, including Chinese pond herons, jabirus, buff-backedand grey herons, and grey, blue and black bitterns, which stop off ontheir way to China, Myanmar, India and Nepal.

As legend has it, a sudden storm damaged a dyke in the 15th centuryand the resulting flood transformed the rice fields within into a deeplake and turned the local temple into the small island. Locals came tobelieve the lake is holy and never do any thing to harm it nor thecreatures that make it their home. As time has passed, an increasingnumber of storks and herons have come to stay on the island.

The best time to visit the island is either in the early morning orat sunset because these are when the birds typically shift their eatingtimes.

The white storks generally leave their nests to seek food in theearly morning when the grey herons return to their roosts after findingtheir fill. The reverse is true in the late afternoon when all the whitestorks return to their nests and the grey herons take off to forageagain.

I fully enjoy watching the birds fly over our heads or land on thenearby trees under the golden shade of the sunset. Their gentle callsonly add to the beautiful picture they make beneath the setting sun.

Storks choose Thanh Mien over other areas of the province because of the abundance of shrimp and fish, both wild and cultivated.

Local residents are aware of the tourism potential the birds presentso they do their best to protect them rather than hunt them for meat.Ban says some people even let the storks eat fish from their ponds.

Storks collect straw and other grasses to build their nests in bambooand eucalyptus trees. They lay eggs four separate times betweenSeptember to April each year, with six eggs each time. After 25 days ofincubating, a small stork is born. After a short 60 days of being fedand trained to fly by their parents, the young storks are able to searchfor food independently. Ban tells me there are currently about 10,000storks and 7,000 night herons.

In the past, storks typically limited their stay at the lake tobetween September to April, but now they live here throughout the year.The growing population has put pressure on the bamboo trees in the area,so locals are thinking about planting more trees to meet their needs.

Like many other people here, Ban loves the birds but he is worriedabout how to ensure that their development is sustainable, saying "Ifthere are too many birds, I don't really think we have enough space andfood to accommodate them." 

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Sapa's ancient historical treasure in a bad state

Written by on 9/7/12 at 10:36 PM

Near Sapa a field with many boulders donning ancient carvings, which is being proposed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, is in a state of serious deterioration.


The field covers about eight square kilometres of the Muong Hoa Valley, and discovered by Russian-French archaeologist Glubev in 1925. It consists of around 200 large boulders. Many of these rocks have been carved with patterns, staircases, pictures and writing. 

Many archaeologists believe that, the patterns are maps made by Mong ethnic minority people. However there are different explanations about these shapes and, to date, there is no consensus among scientists as to their significance or meaning. 

In October 1994, the site, which is thousands years old, was recognised as a national historic relic by the Ministry of Culture and Information, now known as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and has become a tourist attraction. 

It is this tourism, ironically that has been destroying the patterns on the rocks. 

The only protection in many areas is only a thin and damaged fence. Children play on the rocks, and visitors walk on them to get a closer look or take photos. Some people even carve out vulgarities. 

The cement walls which protect the more remote areas are in a state of ruin. Locals have destroyed them in order to take the iron rebar for sales, and many children do continue the destruction just for fun.

Visitors who buy tickets to see the site are often disappointed in the sad state it is in.

Travellers have to buy tickets to visit the place, but what they see is just their deterioration. Nevertheless, local authorities have not yet taken any actions to deal with the violations.

There are also no signs which instruct visitors on acceptable behaviour. 

Nguyen Thi Van Anh, a tourist from Hanoi, said, “I've always heard about these ancient stones in Sapa, especially special mysterious patterns and shapes on them. However, when actually got here, I was disappointed at the way such a valuable place has been managed. Both the elements and people have taken their toll.”

Chairman of Sapa District, Le Duc Luan, said, “At one time the Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism had a project to preserve the stones. They also built a building for displaying the rocks and constructed fences. But the project was left done half-finished. Currently, the rocks and their fences surrounding them are still being destroyed by the behaviour of locals and tourists, particularly children. The district plans to carry out a project to build roads to the stone area, new fences hire a security team to protect it. The project, will cost around VND2 billion (USD95,238), and is expected to be completed next year.”

Some photos of the stones:

Patterns in the display building

Some of the patterns 

Visitors climb on the rock

Lack of care

A rock before the display house

Few rocks have fences around them


A rare rock with its original patterns

Bad behaviour destroying a treasure

Useless fences 

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Okmen22 has been working with the Web since late 2007. I'm from viet nam.Blog about Vietnam news update daily . Thank .