Serpentine dragons and pulsating fluorescent halos, frightening gods like angry superman, spiraling Gaudi-esque architecture and over the top mosaics, it’s hard not to smile when visiting the Linh Phuoc Pagoda in the small town of Trai Mat, 8 kms north of the DaLat, Vietnam. Although a functioning Buddhist temple with a monastery on site, most visitors are overwhelmed by the audacity and playfulness of the design.
Funny, kitsch and impossible to photograph is the 49-meter-long winding glaze dragon covered in mosaics from 12,000 broken beer bottles. The main building is a seven-tiered-27-meter-tall-tower made from thousands of pieces of broken bowls. The winding staircases and columns are covered in colourful mosaics, reminiscent of Gaudi.
Life sized sculptures climb the exterior of the bell tower building, or sit and wave from a ledge or play the flute. The same sculptures may be seen from another angle from the internal winding staircase.
Built between 1949 and 1952, the religious site attracts many tourists who mostly arrive in buses. If you are staying in DaLat, the best way to get there is by the antique train, which leaves from Dalat station four times a day, and rattles through the countryside to the village of Trai Mat. Cost VND 125,000 pp return journey.