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Photographer's Note

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Ready for the dark




We took this picture of the two fish-women preparing the traps and lights for their night catch at the mouth of a cave on our way from Ben Duc boat station to Perfume Pagoda along Yen Vy River. On both sides of the river there are jagged limestone karsts with many caves rising out of the water surrounded by rice fields.

Local villagers can be sorted out in three main groups of careers:
- Tourist including rowing boat or motel and food service.
- Farming with floating rice similar to the one cultivated around the Tonle Sap Great Lake in Cambodia.
- Fishing with different types of nets and traps that they can think of and created.



The Perfume Pagoda Festival, Vietnam's longest celebration, lasts all spring. The festival is also the most crowded with at least 30,000 pilgrims per year.

For Vietnamese, "Perfume Pagoda" refers not just to a specific pagoda but also to a region of limestone mountains covering thirty square kilometers. At the foot of the mountains lie valleys, paddy fields and calm springs gently lapping at the mountains' sides. Perfume Vestige (Huong Tich) Mountain Range stretches about six kilometers along the riverbank of the Day River, seventy kilometers southwest of Hanoi. The Perfume Pagoda is located in Huong Son Commune, My Duc District, Ha Tay Province.

Local residents live in the valley and mainly earn their living by cultivating rice, making conical hats and collecting forestry products on the mountain slopes, which house hundreds of large and small caves. Many Buddhist monks striving to reach Nirvana have resided in or near the caves for hundreds of years. As a result, there are many pagodas scattered over the region.

Since the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Perfume Pagoda has been famous as a holy abode of Buddhism and a solemn place for the pilgrims and followers of Buddhism to visit during the spring.

The Perfume Pagoda Festival lasts nearly three months, from the First Lunar Month through the Third Lunar Month. Pilgrims traveling to the Perfume Pagoda have two purposes: worship and sightseeing. The festival does not include games and art performances like other festivals. Today, the Perfume Pagoda Festival begins on the Sixth Day of the First Lunar Month, February 21, which is the day for paying respect to the forest. The main festival day is on the Nineteenth Day of the Second Lunar Month, which, according to legend, was the birthday of Princess Ba, who practiced Buddhism in the area and was later called Quan Am.

The beautiful landscape and the religious significance have combined over the centuries to imbed the Perfume Pagoda in the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. Since the eighteenth century, many famous poets have com posed masterpieces of verse and prose to depict the essence of the Perfume Pagoda highlighted by the atmosphere of the festival. In 1960, Ha Son Binh Publishing House selected and published over forty of the best poems in Perfume Pagoda, which has been republished almost every year. (Source)



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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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