Aug 04, 2009
I had been looking forward to going here for several months.
We took the fairly long motorbike trip (45 mins) to Bat Trang and along the way saw some interesting sights
. The road thru the village before BatTrang was a bit harrowing as the road was narrow, broken and filled with all manner of vehicles. When the road was broken we had to swerve around usually at the same time a truck was coming from the opposite direction or a slew of motorbikes, which made the trip extra exciting. Once we arrived I was happy to get off the bike not only because the village looked like it would be fun to nose around in but also because my arse was sore from the bumpy ride. Once off I immediately got a cold drink because the road was also quite dusty. We were told the "market" was further down the road so we left the bike and went on foot to the market area. I poked my head into nearly every little shop excited to finally be here and quickly realized that Bat Trang was much like Hanoi - many shops but much of the same as the shop next to it. Occasionally I saw some variety but mostly the same stuff. After a few wrong turns, which made for some fun nosing around, we made it to the market area - a fairly large area of ceramic shops/stalls squeezed together. I took about 30 mins to look around and only found a few pieces of interest most of which were too big to bring back on the motorbike. I left the market area rather disappointed by the lack of variety and stopped for some hot green tea and just people watched for awhile. Finally we walked back to the bike and I was rather disappointed by the amount of commercialism that had seeped into what once was probably a very quaint village.
On the ride back we had a flat tire and fortunately we were near one of the many service shops along the road, had the puncture repaired and discussed dinner. We settled on a little shop I'd been to before that had good Bun Trang (pronounced boon chang) a bowl of rice noodle soup with vegetables and different choices for meat, or no meat in my case. It was filling and a nice finish for the day.
Last weekend I finally made it to the much talked about Bat Trang Pottery Village. This is the oldest and most famous pottery village in Vietnam. Many temples and pagodas still preserve lamps and incense burners, with dragons and phoenix, clouds and flowers decorated in blue, with the name, address and date of production in Bat Trang from as far back as the 16th century. They are well known for various kinds of pottery - jade enamel (under the Ly-Tran Dynasties), brown flower or brown enamel (under the late Tran to early Le Dynasties), cracked enamel (under the late Le Dynasty) and royal blue enameled items (under the late Le to Nguyen Dynasties).