Trại Cấn

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10 travelers at this place:

  • Day27

    Temple Complex at Bai Dinh

    March 14 in Vietnam

    After leaving the caves, we were taken to lunch at the hotel at Bai Dinh. When we arrived for lunch, we were taken to an enormous banquet room, at which there guests sitting at two tables. Otherwise, the place was totally deserted. We sat for quite some time, waiting to be fed. After a while, someone rolled out a cart with a variety of dishes, none of which looked very good. As it turned out, looks were not deceiving, as the food was terrible. It was not until many hours later that I realized that the reason we’d eaten at this restaurant is that it was the only way to gain entrance to the top of the Temple Complex at Bai Dinh. If you don’t eat at the restaurant, you have to walk up from the bottom, and then back to the bottom to get back to your car. These logistical considerations don’t seem like a big deal until you actually visit the temple complex, which is positively immense.

    The Temple Complex was built from 2003 to 2010, on the site of an earlier temple. We were told that the complex was built by an enormously wealthy businessman, but we couldn’t seem to find out any information about him, how he earned his money, or why he choose to build the complex. What we did learn is that the complex is the largest in Vietnam and is thought to house the largest Buddha in Southeast Asia (100 tons).

    To the best of my recollection, there are at least 6 temples/pagodas in the complex. The largest pagoda is at the top of the hill. It houses 3 Buddhas, which are 80 tons each. The buddhas, are cast in bronze and covered in gold leaf. The three buddhas represent past, present and future. The 3 Buddhas are surrounded by statutes who guard them, as well as elaborate carvings. Also, there are niches all around the room (and, as we soon discovered, all over the complex) in which there are small gold leaf Buddhas. Each person who donates at least $500 USD to the construction of the complex has their name placed on a plaque in front of the niche. I was surprised that a $500 contribution gave you the right to have your name put on a niche, but as Arie pointed out, $500 is a lot for someone who is Vietnamese. As we walked around the pagoda, we noticed that people who praying and leaving money in the donation boxes placed everywhere. We also saw women who work at the complex remove the donations (cash by the handful) and place it in baskets. We were told that the money was used for upkeep of the complex.

    Next to that pagoda, up a hill, we walked up at least 300 stairs to see an enormous “Happy Buddha,” who has a beatific smile and an enormous belly. The legend is that this Buddha travels the world, making people happy.

    Down the hill is a 13 story pagoda, that houses an Indian Buddha, and ashes from a famous Indian Buddhist (I couldnt’ quite figure out the details). In this pagoda, all of the carvings and gold work were done by Indians, who came to work on the complex.

    A bit farther down the hills is a convention center (which was empty).

    Then, as you walk down further, there is yet another pagoda, which has a 100 ton Buddha. Again, many, many people are praying and leaving offerings.

    Further down the hill is a pagoda that has the Indian god Shiva. Why? I don’t know. But, he was stunning.

    Next, there is a pagoda that houses a bronze bell and drum. The instruments are played at holidays (like lunar new year) and the sound carries for approx 15 miles.

    As you continue to walk down the hill, you pass corridors filled with 250 carved statutes of the ancestors. Touching the statutes is supposed to bring good luck, so their feet’s, knees — any body part that one could reach — are shiny where they were rubbed. And, behind these statutes are many more niches, with Buddhas who are marked for their donors.

    The size of the complex is awesome and overwhelming, all at the same time. It took us the better part of two hours just to walk through, and I could have spent hours gazing at the beautiful figures and people watching.
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  • Day51

    Day of fails

    May 31 in Vietnam

    Today we tried to go to the Galaxy caves 🌌 where you can get a boat ride through some caves and see some limestone stalagmites and stalactites. We had a lazy morning and set off at about 12:30, a map our homestay gave us said it was 12km away which we expected to take half an hour on the bike. We were given directions before we left - to head in the direction of a sign to the caves we'd ridden past on our way to the nature reserve. When we got to the sign it said it was another 18km which was annoying because we'd already traveled about half an hour but we continued. A little while down the road after the turning I realised I should check with Fabien that we have enough money for the entrance fee as we haven't been carrying much money with us lately. Through a series of exchanges it became apparent we actually had no money on us whatsoever and our only choice was to head back.

    By the time we got back it was too late and we were too tired to jump on the bike and go again. So instead we decided to go to the Buddhist temple around the corner from our homestay. There are loads of gates to the Buddhist Pagoda along the road we drive down as we're leaving the homestay but they all seem to be permanently closed. We rode up and down past each of the gates trying to find our way in, had a couple of confusing interactions with locals and after maybe another half an hour of driving around realised we had to drive a surprisingly big loop around the Pagoda to get to parking and the entrance. We paid for the parking, started wandering around, then realised I wasn't well enough to cope with it and so left without seeing anything.

    On the way back we stopped to buy some essentials and asked a group of locals outside the shop where we could get some bia hơi. They couldn't understand us at all and laughed as fabien tried to act out what it was we were asking for. Eventually one guy came along who understood us and directed us down a quiet road.

    We stopped off at a tiny, pretty place. The lady there spoke good English. When we asked for Bia hơi we discovered we'd been pronouncing it wrong because of the ơ being a different sound to what we'd expected. I got out my notebook and spoke with the lady about how I've been learning Vietnamese. She taught me to say rất ngon" (very good) which also sounds completely different to its spelling so she wrote it in my notebook for me.

    While we were drinking some guy pulled up on a bike to buy peanuts and was talking to Fabien and me in Vietnamese a lot although we were really struggling to interpret anything he was saying. He showed us his tattoos and picked some blossoms and gave them to us. He was fun but it was totally confusing.

    A little later while we were still having beers I heard some music from down the road and looked that way to see a kid in a play car with an older sibling using a remote control to steer him up the street.

    When we got back I took this photo of our little home as it looked so cute with the lanterns just turning on.
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  • Day158

    Chùa Bái Đính

    February 6, 2017 in Vietnam

    Unser erstes Ziel ist Chua Dai Binh, Vietnams größter Pagoden- und Tempelkomplex. Es ist ein riesiges Gelände, das vom Tal bis auf den Berg reicht. Es gibt insgesamt vier Tempel, einer schöner als der andere. Zwei überdachte Treppen mit jeweils 500 Stufen führen hoch hinauf. Auf dem Gipfel sitzt ein 10 m hoher und 100 t schwerer Bronzebuddha.
    Als Aussichtspunkt dient eine wunderschöne 13stöckige Pagode, in deren Erdgeschoss ein riesiger goldglänzender Buddha unter einer goldenen Decke thront.
    Die ganze Anlage ist neu und erst seit ca. vier Jahren fertiggestellt. Den Vietnamesen dient sie als buddhistische Pilgerstätte und als Touristenmagnet.
    Uns hats gefallen.
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  • Day88

    Tempel-Disneyland 2.0 (Ninh Binh)

    February 11, 2017 in Vietnam

    Nach wieder mal schlafärmster Nacht spuckte uns der Sleeperbus um 4:00 Uhr auf die verlassenen Straßen Ninh Binhs. Der Nachtportier öffnete gleich sechs Neuankömmlingen bereitwillig und richtete flugs ein Schlaflager in der Lobby ein (Bild 6). Um zwei Stunden Schlaf und eine Pho (typisches Nudelsuppen-Frühstück) im Magen reicher, starteten wir am frühen Nachmittag und bei auf dem Roller sehr kühlen 15 °C zu dem größten Tempelkomplex Vietnams, dem Bai-Dinh-Tempel.

    Dort angekommen, waren wir sehr überrascht vom Andrang: schon auf dem Parkplatz stapelten sich quasi die Roller und Menschenmassen strömten zum Eingang (zu 99 % Vietnamesen; an einem normalen Werktagsnachmittag). Wir entschieden uns gegen den Elektrobus-Shuttle zur Anlage und wanderten lieber die zwei Kilometer. Der erste davon ist gesäumt von Verkaufsständen, die alle das komplett gleiche Sortiment feilbieten, welches vor allem aus unterschiedlichen Süßigkeiten besteht. Da hauptsächlich Einheimische die Anlage besuchen, waren die Händler gar nicht auf Westler eingestellt und gewährten uns Lokalpreise: für 30000 Dong (~1,20 €) ergatterten wir getrocknete Zuckerpaste und Nuss-Karamell-Oblaten (in etwa mit türkischem Honig vergleichbar) in rauen Mengen.

    Derart gestärkt erkundeten wir das riesige Arreal. Erst 2010 fertiggestellt, präsentiert sich der Bai-Dinh wie ein religiöses Disneyland in traumhafter Kulisse. Natürlich alles neumodische, aber auf alt getrimmte Retorte (ich fühlte mich leicht an den weißen Tempel in Chiang Rai erinnert, deshalb im Titel auch "2.0"), jedoch trotzdem schön anzuschauen. Durch den Gigantismus (die Bilder sprechen ja für sich) der Bauten verlief sich die Besuchermeute auch ganz gut; es ist zudem immer wieder interessant zu sehen, dass auch modern gestaltete Gottesstätten gut frequentiert sind, wobei ich vermute, dass der hauptsächliche Impetus der einheimischen Besucher nicht religiöser Natur sondern eher der Begeisterung für pompöse Bauwerke und für gute Selfie-Locations entspringt. Leider wollte die Sonne nicht so ganz wie wir - die Suppe riss nicht auf. Trotzdem lässt sich auf den Fotos der tolle Blick auf das Umland erahnen.

    Auf jeden Fall einen Besuch wert, auch da außer 15000 đ Parkgebühr keinerlei Eintritt das Backpackerbudget belastete.
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  • Day24

    Pagode de Bai Dinh

    September 10, 2016 in Vietnam

    Après l'émerveillement de ce matin, place au calme et au recueillement.

    Peu après notre arrivée, la pluie se met à tomber et le paysage deviens brumeux, renforçant la sensation d'isolement.
    Les passages extérieurs se muent en rivières et les escaliers en de chantantes cascades.

    Bien abrités, nous parcourons les longs couloirs de cette pagode et nous nous arrêtons voir les différents temples.
    Les bouddhas présents nous font nous sentir tout petits.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Trại Cấn, Trai Can

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