Soc Trang - Khmer culture
The provincial capital of Soc Trang is also easy reached as a day trip from Can Tho. For travellers who are interested in the Khmer culture there is plenty to see, for all others rather little. The Khmer population is about 30%. In Soc Trang you can find numerous pagodas and also culinary specialties. The biggest Khmer festival of the Mekong delta, the Ok Om Bok festival, is here in October/November.
The Khleang pagoda was originally built from bamboo in 1533, then renewed with stone in 1905. It is very authentic and many people say it looks as if it is in Cambodia. Some monks live in houses on stilts around the pagoda and also teach e.g. Cambodian language in the school nearby. Opposite of it you can find a Khmer museum with more information about the minorities in Vietnam. Here you can also find dance and music performances, but these take place on an irregular basis.
Legacies of the Chinese
The unusual pagoda of clay figures, Chua Dat Set, was built over 200 years ago by a Chinese family. One of their descendants, the monk Ngo Kim spent over 40 years trying to design the interior with clay. In the pagoda some 2.50 m tall candles are burning in memory of the artist.
The Bat Pagoda Chua Doi, which is located 3 km outside the city, is probably the most famous pagoda. It was built in 1569 and renovated a century ago. A few years ago a fire destroyed the interior of the pagoda, the outside remained more or less intact. In the interior are also a few things preserved, such as a large Buddha statue. The trees of the sanctuary are home to thousands of bats which are particularly active in the mornings and late in the afternoon, giving the area a mystical atmosphere. Much to the farmers regrets, the bats quite like to eat fruits. This is why many locals catch them and eat them.