Ben Tre to Tra Vinh


A rain free day today, overcast but with the odd bit of sun sneaking through to let us know it's possible that some of the big 100 km plus days ahead could be hot. In the interim, it's a rest day for us all in the city of Tra Vinh. A few running repairs to be carried out including my bike seat which has been put through its paces over the last 3,000 kms of riding, including the thousands of kilometres in preparation for the long ride. So here's hoping that some glue and duct tape will fix the seat and some minor problems with the prosthetic limb.

Twenty kilometres out of Ben Tre yesterday and my sixth sense told me to stop at a Vietnamese War cemetery and memorial (To Quoc Nhi Cong) in a small village named Mo Cay. I've seen hundreds of war memorials through the country since leaving Hanoi, but there's always one that catches my eye or I get an inkling to stop for a visit.

Again, what looks like a Vietcong women (the protector of the faith) stands on the main pedestal of the memorial statue. The walkway around the memorial is a solid marble floor. When climbing the stairs to the base marble floor you must walk around the main memorial, almost like you're compelled to walk a lap of honour around the most beautiful statue showing different themes of the war carved into limestone images on the wall of the memorial. The statue is encompassed by a hedge of orange flowers which look like they're meticulously cared for by the parks maintenance people who live and there full time.

The war gravesite spans out into a fan type pattern from the main memorial to the war graves in various wings. There are 3,000 soldiers from over 27 Mo Cay District villages who fought in both the French and American Wars buried here.

The freshness of the war graves can be seen due to it being fairly new, about 20 years old. In one corner stands a memorial wall with 13,000 names of the men and women (black marble wall) who were just from the village of Mo Cay alone. There are two unnamed graves buried amongst the other NVA soldiers in the cemetery, both foreigners who changed sides to the North Vietnamese Army; a Japanese and a German, both NVA soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for their cause.

Today we crossed our 57th bridge in the Mekong Delta since leaving as a group from Saigon. Some are small and there some huge monstrosities, steep and high bridges that certainly test one's cardio vascular fitness.

I could tell we are now closer to the Cambodian border as Buddhist temples are coming into view on a regular basis, Cambodian writing on the entry gates to the temples and a few Cambodian people amongst the local Vietnamese culture. It will be interesting to see how diverse the cultures will be after the free passage agreement kicks into motion next year (2017) which allows the Asian nations, such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand free border passage (without passports) to travel and work abroad at their own will.

Trà Vinh is a coastal province in southern Vietnam. On the edge of its capital city, also called Trà Vinh, sits the ancient Âng Pagoda, one of more than 100 Khmer pagodas in the area. Nearby are the Khmer Minority People’s Museum, showcasing Khmer culture, and Ba Om Pond, surrounded by trees that shelter rich birdlife. South of the capital is Nôdol Pagoda, also known as Stork Pagoda for the storks that live there.

xin chao va tam biet