Sunday, March 28, 2010

Birds in Paradise

The Mekong Delta is paradise for twitchers. It’s home to one of the world’s rarest cranes and the world’s tallest flying bird — the red-headed Sarus Crane (Grus antigone). Visitors with less time on their hands can get up close and personal to another bird in a spiritual setting. Just outside Tra Vinh is the Hang Pagoda, a Khmer pagoda that attracts thousands of storks that flap and settle in the trees that shade the compound.
Some 300,000 people are Khmer in Tra Vinh province with more than 140 Khmer temples in the area; this is an odd fact seeing as Tra Vinh is almost the furthest province away from Khmer roots in Cambodia.
While the monks, clad in saffron robes, chant in the pagoda at sundown or mingle by the courtyard fountain with pet dogs, the storks compete with a choral cacophony as they swoop and settle for the night. Storks are an omnipresent cultural symbol in Vietnam and are associated with hardworking farmers.

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