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CON DAO ISLAND
Isolated from the mainland, the Con Dao Islands are one of the star attractions in Vietnam. Long the Devil’s Island of Indochina, the preserve of political prisoners and undesirables, this place is now turning heads thanks to its striking natural beauty. Con Son, the largest of this chain of 15 islands and islets, is ringed with lovely beaches, coral reefs and scenic bays, and remains partially covered in thick forests. In addition to hiking, diving and exploring empty coastal roads and deserted beaches, there are some excellent wildlife-watching opportunities.
Dalat is quite different from anywhere else you’ll visit in Vietnam. You would almost be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the French Alps in springtime. This was certainly how the former colonists treated it – escaping to their chalets to enjoy the cooler climate. The City of Eternal Spring, Dalat’s temperature hovers between a pleasant 15°C (average daily minimum) to 24°C (average daily maximum). Effectively Dalat has two seasons – dry (December to March) and wet (April to November). Despite the mild temperatures, by the end of the dry season the lush green surrounds turn to brown. Even in the wet season, mornings normally remain dry – allowing time for sightseeing before the deluge begins.
HANG KENH COMMUNAL HOUSE
Hang Kenh Communal House (pseudonym was Nhan Tho or Flying Dragon communal house) and located on Nguyen Cong Tru street (under Trung Hanh hamlet, Former Hang Kenh commune). According to stele, this was built in 1717 (Mau Tuat lunar calendar), in Hang Kenh street. In 1841 it was moved to the current position. The communal house was built in large scale for many consecutive years (about 15 years). This is a very Ngo Quyen memorial, a nation’s historic hero. The most prominent architecture of ‘Great Communal House’ is in accordance with ‘Chong giuong ke hien’ (Oriental architecture) with six rows of pillars, including 7 purlins with 42 iron-wood pillars with circumference of 2m and height of 5.10m. Carved sculptures of various images and figures indicates an unique wooden sculpt art and this was one of the most typical communal houses of early 18th century time. In this communal house only, there are nearly 900 dragons carved by artists with the Le dynasty’s art. Mother dragons and little dragons flying in the sky with stylized birds and vegetation. Visiting this house, we seem to lose our way in a very lively, sparkling and fanciful dragon world because each dragon is of colorful and expressive nuance imagined and expressed by ancient spirits through exquisite talented hands. Next to the communal house, it is the temple of literature of An Duong rural district with steles bearing the engraved names of feudal bachelors and doctors of former An Duong district. The inhabitants of Hang Kenh commune built a communal house instead of a temple to worship Ngo Quyen. So Ngo Quyen who was a real character became the holy belief to stay immortally in the villagersmemory. They are likely to keep him forever in their mind, and their lives of happiness, sorrow and difficulties.
DU HANG PAGODA
Du Hang Pagoda was established in the 17th century under the Ly Dynasty and went through several reconstructions over the years. It features a pagoda, a bell tower, many sophisticated carvings of guardians, Buddha images, lovely gardens with an interesting bonsai collection and some important vintage objects. Bring along some bread if you want to feed the turtles and fishes in a small pond within the compound too. Basically, a ‘dress with respect’ attitude is best when entering any religious sites in Vietnam.