Guidebook Encounter Khmer Culture in Tra Vinh

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Encounter Khmer Culture in Tra Vinh

“The ragged Tra Vinh peninsula juts into the sea like a dragon’s talon,” writes Mark Stratton at Wanderlust, and it’s home to a rich, long ethnic Khmer culture. Historically Cambodian Khmers populated the delta “before being marginalised as Vietnam expanded its influence southwards in the 18th-century,” he explains. This can be seen around Tra Vinh in the form of 142 Khmer pagodas -- go to the 900-year-old Ang Pagoda to witness “the sumptuousness of Khmer art … Technicolour murals chronicling Buddha’s life, multi-tiered roofs writhing with dragons, stairways of rearing seven-headed snakes.” The pick of the Tra Vinh pagodas, says Stratton, is 350-year-old Hang Pagoda where, each evening around 5pm, “hundreds of storks launch skywards from the surrounding trees to create a swirling whiteout like an unlikely snow blizzard.”  

This countryside makes you think “you had suddenly been transported to Cambodia,” observes Rachel Davis at Vagabond Baker, such is the proliferation of Khmer culture. “Dotted around the farmland are Khmer temples, architectural legacies left over from the great Khmer empire that left behind a substantial ethnic Khmer population in the Mekong Delta that is still present today.” And the “architectural style and detail of the temples” is unlike any of the other Buddhist temples in Vietnam -- “highly intricate, very colourful and rich with Khmer imagery.”

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