Visiting Betel Garden and Bang Lang Shrine in An Giang
Visiting the betel garden evokes ancient Vietnamese customs from the time of the Hung kings. There is a legend about the betel and that tells of a young man dying and turning into an areca tree; his wife in her grief dies beside him and turns into a betel plant, attaching herself to the tree. Traditionally Vietnamese people invite their guests to chew betel before starting a conversation, and betel and areca are essential betrothal gifts in weeding parties.

In Long Son Commune, the betel is a well known product. It has existed there for thousands of years, having originated from a famous betel from Ba Diem, and has made Long Son famous. Traders go there to buy 7,000 to 8,000 betel leaves a day to sell in Chau Doc, Tan Chau (An Giang), Hong Ngu, Dong Thap, and even to export to Cambodia

The betel garden of Nguyen Phu Trung in Long Hoa Commune in Tan Phu District is an amazing sight, with the betel vines climbing endlessly in the glistening sunlight on the immeasurably high betel trellis. Just a short walk from the garden is Bang Lang Shrine, built to worship Lady Thuong Dong Co Hy on an area of 1,000 square meters.

Near the shrine are three ancient, giant bang lang trees which blossom with purple flowers in winter, creating a sanctuary of calmness and providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of life. The local Cham people hold an annual Bang Lang Shrine Festival on the 15th and 16th of the third lunar month (April 9 and 10, 2009) to pray for a peaceful life and better crops. Visitors to Long Son during the festival will enjoy diverse artistic activities and local folk games in the jubilant atmosphere of the festival.

An Giang also holds a series of annual festivals such as Ba Chua Xu, Chol Chnam Thomay and Dolta festivals, and has many popular tourist attractions including ox racing, Sam Mountain in Chau Doc, Cam Mountain in Tien Binh, Tuc Dup Hill, a network of grottoes in Thuy Dai Son, Anh Vu Son, Co To, and many traditional craft villages.

A visit to An Giang will satisfy any traveler’s search for splendid scenery and traditional Vietnamese culture.

VietNamNet/SGT