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Entries in Vietnam (81)


More Rattan Counting

The field crews from the rattan survey (Where are Those Transects and Field Books) sent a lot of images together with their data files. The shots provide a good overview of what the inventory work in the Central Truong Son mountains was like.

There was, for example, a lot of slogging around to locate the transects,

some confusion trying to figure out the identity of all the different rattan species that were encountered,

the tedium of setting up a new base camp every night,

and the occasional bit of fun when the rain stopped and the transect passed through a nice, i.e. flat, piece of forest. These guys did an amazing job with this survey. Deep bows of gratitude.  [NOTE: I love the plastic sandals and the leech socks].


Quan Âm

Beautiful statue of Avalokiteshvara, or Quan Âm, as the Bodhisattva of Compassion is known in Vietnam, on the grounds of Chuc Thanh pagoda (see Chuc Thanh Pagoda and Chuc Thanh Pagoda III). May all beings be healthy, happy, and peaceful during this holiday season. 


Mr. Manh Serves Tea

During the 600 km drive from Hanoi to the Song Thanh Nature Reserve (see Song Thanh N.R. and Rattan Workshop), we would stop every couple of hours to take a break. Our driver, Mr. Manh, always took charge of cleaning the cups and serving the tea. [NOTE: I have done this trip three times now]. 


Chuc Thanh III


These four charming young ladies were the first to greet me as I walked through Chuc Thanh pagoda (see Chuc Thanh  and Chuc Thanh II). Wonderful haircuts. Beautiful smiles. [NOTE: The girls are trainee nuns who have entered monastic life at a young age.  They live and are educated at Chuc Thanh].


Mỹ Sơn

Southwest of Danang in Central Vietnam is a cluster of ancient Hindu ruins dedicated to the god Shiva. Known as Mỹ Sơn, the temples were constructed between the 4th and the 14th century by successive kings of the Champa dynasty. Truly spectacular, and I took a lot of pictures.  A few are presented below. I particularly like the one of the headless statue. [NOTE: Many of the structures were severely damaged during the Vietnam War and are gradually being re-constructed].



Chuc Thanh II

Young monks at Chuc Thanh pagoda doing their homework as the rain pours down outside. Interesting tonsure. [NOTE: I shot this from the meditation hall, i.e. I was not standing out in the rain].


Hoan Kiem Turtle

Was having lunch at a cafe by Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi (see Lake Hoan Kiem) and I saw a lot of people crowding around the bank.  I went over to see what was going on, and - I saw the Hoan Kiem turtle!! To put this in context, this is a bit like seeing the Loch Ness monster. A dead Rafetus leloii was recovered from the lake in 1967 weighing 440 kg and measuring 1.9 m, and it was unclear if there was another turtle in the lake or not. There have been periodic turtle sightings in Hoan Kiem over the past ten years, however, and it is generally thought that there is one last Rafetus leloii turtle still in the lake. One in Hoan Kiem Lake, and two in zoos in China. And these, apparently, are the last three individuals left of this species. Sigh.  I am humbled to have seen one of the three this afternoon.

UPDATE: The Rafetus leloii specimen found in the lake 1967 is on display at the Ngoc Son temple. This is a big turtle.


Chuc Thanh Pagoda

Chuc Thanh pagoda, located about 2 km north of Hoi An (see Hoi An), was founded in 1454 by the Chinese monk Minh Hai. The main altar at this ancient temple complex is shown below. Note the two large, and well-used, mokugyos (mộc ngư in Vietnamese) to the left of the altar.

The meditation hall contains beautiful wooden statues of prominent Chuc Thanh ancestors and bodhisattvas, as well as a large, cast-iron bell that was said to be several hundred years old. This was a very peaceful and magical place. 


View From the Tea Shop

Spent all day in the car driving back to Hanoi from Central Vietnam.  Every couple of hours we would stop for a cup of tea at one of the numerous little shops along AH 1. The view out the back of the one near Thanh Hoa where we stopped this afternoon is shown above. [NOTE: That's a water buffalo standing out in the field to the left. And that's a dove in the cage upper right. And the bike had a flat tire].


Phong Dien

Had the last rattan inventory meeting this morning at the Phong Dien Nature Reserve headquarters. Was well attended and there was a lively discussion about managing rattan in buffer zones together with communities. I'm a big fan of this idea and was delighted that the park staff brought it up. That's Mr. Biu Van Thanh (see Kon-Tun), my local counterpart and translator, standing up on the right. The white bust with the bouquet of flowers prominently displayed to the left of the screen is, of course, Ho Chi Minh.

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