Call of the ocean

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Get set for the cultural festivities and record-breaking attempts that will heat up the central coastal city of Nha Trang this June.

Beautiful beaches, plush resorts and excellent scuba-diving have earned Nha Trang the tag as the most popular destination for local and international tourists.

Listed as one of the world's most beautiful bays by Worldbays, Nha Trang Bay offers a number of tourism attractions including Vietnam's most beautiful coral reef Hon Mun (Ebony Island), Dao Khi (Monkey Island), Hon Tam (Silkworm Island) and the 5-star island resort Vinpearl Land which is only 10 minutes by speed boat from the city center.

The famous Sea Festival held every two years since 2003 has continued to be a great success thanks to the natural assets and modern infrastructure of the capital of Khanh Hoa Province.

This year's Sea Festival will be held June 6 -12 with about 60 festivities such as a film week, Cham minority ethnic group arts shows, kite flying festival, bicycle and Vespa parade, boat races and human chess games.

"The Sea Festival 2009 promises depth," says organizer-in-chief and vice chairman of the provincial people's committee, Le Xuan Than.

Local pottery and brocade making displays will also be showcased.

Fireworks and whales

A spectacular fireworks show on the sea with music arranged by Global 2000 will light up April 2 Square following the June 6 opening ceremony.

Nha Trang's own Miss Vietnam Tourism 2008 Ngoc Diem will also be there.

The offering ceremony of Ong Nam Hai (Lord of the South Sea). Thousands of fishermen travel long distances to come to the festival.

Le hoi cau ngu (Fishing praying festival), an important cultural event, will be a highlight for visitors

Le hoi cau ngu are religious occasions for all the fishing villages on the central coast of Vietnam during the third to the seventh lunar month.

Ong Nam Hai (Lord of the South Sea) or Ca Ong - a type of blue whale found on the central coast of Vietnam - is believed to be the sacred guardian of all fishermen at sea. According to local legends the whales have rescued many ships in distress.

Locals will commemorate Ong Nam Hai and pray for peace and safety during the Sea Festival.

Sea villagers hold funerals and burials for Ca Ong when the whales die and drift into shore. Two Ca Ong temples can still be found in Nha Trang City today, one in Vinh Nguyen Ward, Tran Phu Street and one in Vo Thi Sau Street.

The bones of whales have been preserved for hundreds of years in a collection of wooden trunks in Vinh Nguyen Ward in Nha Trang. The trunks are only opened at praying festivals.

Representatives from all the 10 fishing villages around Khanh Hoa Province will travel to the festival to participate in the rituals including boat oar dancing and a palanquin march from the sea to the temple.

Bigger and better

French sculptor Marc Morvan, whose work is exhibited in the Elysee Palace in France, will leave his mark in Nha Trang with a metal dragon created from two tons of bomb and mine fragments left from the Vietnam War.

The head of the giant metal dragon

The artist has been working in Nha Trang since April with two Vietnamese welders to turn objects of war into an artwork for peace.

The 41-year-old creator of a sculpture of the Loch Ness Monster said the dragon could even be bigger if there was enough space. However, it is still the biggest metal dragon ever built in Vietnam.

The giant dragon; 4 meters tall, 6 meters long and one meter in diameter; will be displayed at the main park in June and will become one of the new tourist attractions of Nha Trang Town.

An admirer of the Vietnamese pho (rice-noodle) will set a record for the most pho bowls ever prepared.

The 3 meter wide and 1.5 meter tall soup pan is estimated to feed 700 participants and it has been registered for the Vietnamese record book.

During the Sea Festival 2009, Nha Trang also attempts records for the biggest giant wind bell, the first exhibit of 100 bag kites and 100 pinwheels on the beach, a 100-meter long oil painting, the biggest wifi coffee and the biggest work-out session on the beach.

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