Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vietnam trip

I have just returned from a week long trip to Vietnam. I spent a couple of days in Saigon and took a trip to the Cu Chin tunnels. But most of the time I spent in the seaside town of Vung Tau.

I did the sightseeing thing, which included some pagodas. And I found two horse statues.

The first one was inside one of the buildings in a pagoda near the seaside. The main building had a huge sleeping Buddha, but in another part of the complex, there was a dragon boat full of water with three islands, and behind it, a room with several statues, including this horse:

For size comparison:

A few days later, we went to another pagoda on the other side of the peninsula. This one was very different, with huge gardens and a large sitting Buddha. Interesting there were four large carved panels inscribed with the teachings of Buddha, one each in Vietnames, Thai, Chinese and English.

The extensive gardens of this pagoda also had near lifesize statues depicting the travels of Buddha. The most impressive ones were firstly a scene with a sitting Buddha and a monkey offering fruit and a kneeling elephant. Secondly, a scene depicting a princess with a horse and the princess is in the process of cutting her long hair off:

From the other side, the fishing harbour can be seen in the background:

The only real horses I saw in Vietnam were at a hilltop resort and theme park. We arrived there fairly late in the afternoon and ran out of daylight. I saw one of the ponies pulling a cart and there were other carriages which obviously were used to cart tourists around. I saw a couple of horses led with tourists on board. Later on, as it was getting dark, we walked past the stables and I had the chance to have a look at the horses.

It was a bit hard as they were in box stalls and the light was getting low. They seemed conformationally pretty close in type to the ponies I had seen in Indonesia a few years ago. Pretty leggy, longish bodies, relatively upright in the front and hind end. Not pretty by Australian standards, but they looked tough and capable of working. I'm sure that the pony I saw in front of the cart was ambling. Looking at the conformation, I wouldn't be surprised if several of them had gait ability. However, I couldn't really tell. I'll admit, I don't know very much about Asian horse breeds, as I have not been able to find a lot of sources on the subject.

The rest of the impression of the horses wasn't too good. They had the typical sour look of stabled horses who spend their days with non-horsey people who see them no different to riding go-carts. The stables were clean but had concrete floors with only a thin rubber mat. Of course, the tropical climate would make dirt floors impossible, and the bricked walls would help to keep things cool. They stables were open and breezy, and the horses had been provided with freshly cut long sheaves of green grass. They looked in pretty reasonable condition, though several had healed up saddle sores. Overall, my friend commented, they were in better condition than most of the other horses he'd encountered in his travels in Asia. The only thing that really struck me was the open hostility towards people which some of the horses showed. The ponies across the aisle mostly had a much less sour attitude. But as I said, the life of permanently stabled horses who have to work and deal with the unknowing public is not conducive to a good outlook on life. No matter where in the world.