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Traveling to Soc Trang according to the instructions of the local people

Manh Tu, from Hanoi, has experiences in Soc Trang, visiting Khmer pagodas, buying pia cakes and eating vermicelli noodles.

Ly Manh Tu, born in 1989, works for a travel agency in Hanoi. He and his wife and two friends traveled through many famous places: Ba Chua Xu Temple, Tra Su Melaleuca forest (An Giang), Ninh Kieu Wharf (Can Tho) and visited a number of Khmer pagodas (Soc Trang) and other famous people. Experience the bold West of the river.

“Life will be boring if you don’t set foot in new lands,” Tu confided. Therefore, he decided to visit some western provinces in early April. The journey is always accompanied by his wife and brings his passion for tourism into the business of tourism products and services.

During his trip to Soc Trang, he spent a day exploring two famous Khmer temples, Bat Pagoda and Som Rong. The system of Khmer pagodas in the South according to the Theravada sect is quite dense, especially in Tra Vinh province with 143 Khmer temples, followed by Soc Trang with 92 pagodas. Each Khmer temple has an impressive scene, different scale, has a combination of classical and modern, but in general is a work of art bearing its own distinct imprint. The most famous Khmer pagoda in Soc Trang is the Bat Pagoda, nearly 2 km from the city center.

Explore Somrong Pagoda, where there is a giant statue of Buddha entering nirvana.

Explore Som Rong Pagoda, where there is a giant statue of Buddha entering Nirvana.

Bat Pagoda has the Khmer name of Wat Seraytecho Mahatup, the Kinh and Chinese people misread Mahatup as “Ma clan”, so the pagoda is also known as Ma Toc pagoda. Manh Tu was surprised when the entrance to the main hall planted many ancient star and oil trees, bringing a green space to the temple, behind the temple grounds is a stone embankment lake rearing different species of fish.

He stopped curiously at the statues of the goddess Kemnar with her hands clasped over her chest, plastered on the corridor surrounding the main hall. According to Tu, the most interesting thing is to admire the sight of bats hanging like fruit behind the pagoda. He also expressed a little regret that there were not many bats left compared to some pictures posted online of hundreds of thousands of bats as before.

After the ancient Bat pagoda, Manh Tu continued to move to Botum Vong Sa Som Rong pagoda (commonly called Som Rong). This is a famous spiritual tourist destination in Soc Trang, located in Ward 5, Soc Trang City, with modern Khmer architecture, attracting many tourists, especially young people.

Visit Khmer temple kingdom according to local instructions - 1

Tourists transform into Khmer girls.

The main highlight of the pagoda is the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha entering Nirvana with a length of 63 m, a height of 22.5 m, weighing about 490 tons, which is considered one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in Vietnam at present. In the temple, the girls hire costumes to dress up as Khmer girls and take pictures in the corridors, three levels of the pagoda, the tower outside the campus and in front of the reclining Buddha statue…

In addition to discovering architecture, Manh Tu also learns about the cultural activities and beliefs of the Khmer people. Thereby, he knew that during the period from April 14 to 16, it was Chol Chnam Thmay Festival traditional. Khmer people believe that this is the time when heaven and earth harmonize, the dry season turns to the rainy season, and all the trees are green, the beginning of a new year. Usually, these days, the Khmer gather at the temple, where the monks hold different rituals and meanings.

In addition to the two pagodas above, if staying in Soc Trang for two days, visitors can visit some other famous Khmer pagodas such as Kh’leang Pagoda, Chroi Tum Chas, Paem Buol Thmay (Soc Trang City), Chen Kieu Pagoda (Soc Trang City), Chen Kieu Pagoda (Soc Trang City), and Chen Kieu Pagoda. My Xuyen district) or Four Faces Pagoda (Chau Thanh district).

Sour and sourdough fish, a specialty of the West.

Western delicacies on the way to travel.

The trip to Soc Trang did not take much time, but Manh Tu also took advantage of a tour to explore the central market of Soc Trang city, surprised to see that the fruit was sold too young compared to in Hanoi, mango was only 5,000-10,000 VND/kg depending on type. He also did not forget to enjoy sweet and sour pickled cana fruit, ripe tamarind, drink sugarcane juice, eat noodle soup and buy specialty pia cakes as gifts.

Tu was impressed and brought a lot of nostalgia to the West. “I will definitely return to Soc Trang and continue my journey on alluvial soil,” Tu reminded.

Huynh Phuong
Image: Lee Manh Tu

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