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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

10 December 2018

Pastel city of the dead

An Bang cemetery

An Bang cemetery

8 December 2018

There is a village on the coast south-east of Hue called An Bang. It’s just another Vietnamese village, except for some reason an exceptional number of inhabitants moved to the U.S. after the war and began sending back money. The families used this money for building themselves splendid villa houses, so that An Bang looks more than a little Beverley Hills in places (okay, I exaggerate, but it looks nothing like anywhere else in Vietnam). They also used the money to build splendid tombs for themselves and their relatives.

An Bang cemetery is just astonishing.

Tasteful tiles for your tomb

Tasteful tiles for your tomb

It is a city of the dead in pastel colours. It is a senior school art & craft project on a monumental scale. It is a collision of multiple religious traditions in a porcelain factory. It has to be seen to be believed.

The funniest thing for me are the tiles. They use really naff porcelain tiles. The bargain bin-ends of Tile Warehouse that only a landlord of cheap student accommodation with no taste would use to decorate his bathrooms. And yet by the time you’ve used several acres of clashing tiles to build a monumental edifice covered in fanciful beasts, Confucian chinese characters, Christian crosses and angels and Buddhist symbols (all of the decoration done in mosiac using broken up crockery) you can step back and those tasteless tiles have been transformed into. Well. Into a huge tasteless memorial to yourself and/or your departed relations.

Miles of monumental kitsch

Miles of monumental kitsch

It’s all awesome.

Later we stopped for lunch and I had some squid that only stayed with me for three hours (luckily, time enough to check-in to our accommodation in Da Nang). Bit unlucky that. In Hue and elsewhere I’ve been eating crab, prawn, oyster, squid and fish with no noticeable bad effects. No idea why this one disagreed with me.

Da Nang is a big and modernising city. It looks and feels like it is part way through a metamorphosis from somewhere like Hue or Hanoi into somewhere like Hong Kong or Bangkok. Da Nang’s biggest attraction is the Dragon Bridge. This is a bridge that looks like a dragon, and glows with neon light after dark. And on Saturdays and Sundays at 9pm, the dragon actually breathes fire and squirts water! Having seen the stylish and tasteful cemetary of An Bang, I’m not at all surprised.

Dragon bridge

Dragon bridge


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