THE GOD FISH STREAM: Luong Ngoc, Vietnam
Every so often when we visit something particularly unusual or unknown along the way, we’ll mention it here even if it’s not actually on any World Heritage lists yet. And today, it’s THE GOD FISH STREAM!
See, we were heading back on the long run up from the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty to catch our plane back to Bangkok, when the driver suggested — did we want to visit THE GOD FISH STREAM?
That didn’t ring any bells, and we like to think we research our route planning reasonably well; surely we wouldn’t have overlooked something as interesting sounding as THE GOD FISH STREAM, would we?
Check TripAdvisor, and … nothing within its search range sounds even vaguely like THE GOD FISH STREAM either. Well then. What ho, driver, let us away to THE GOD FISH STREAM!
So what THE GOD FISH STREAM is, once you puzzle your way through unmapped and unmarked back roads to actually find the place, there is a small village, and it has a stream. And there is a plaque explaining
The Luong Ngoc Fish Stream has been cared for by local peoples for many generations. Legend says that terrible misfortune will befall anyone who harms the fish, and a temple honouring the Snake Spirit, the protector of fish, stands next to the stream.
And here’s something you’re very unlikely to have seen before, no matter how travelled you are: An up close and personal shot of THE GOD FISH!
No fish were harmed in the making of this post, we assure you; if you want to challenge the legend, go ahead and harm the fish and let us know what happens…
… us, we’re not credulous exactly of local mythologies such as this, but hey, why take any chances? Might as well stay on the good side of any possibly vengeful deities, we say!
This is the very head of the stream, with THE GOD FISH there to make sure that nobody disturbs the spring of their river:
That’s pretty much it really, but the plaque went on to say
For the more adventurous, Dong Dang cave lies a 10 minute walk away inside Truong Sinh mountain.
Well, as long as we’re here and all, let’s go check that out! It’s moderately interesting as caves go, mostly in that it’s all but completely unimproved — the lights are jury-rigged and you’re clambering about the raw floor no stairs or anything like in commercial operations:
But the most interesting thing we thought was that inside the cave there is a working shrine to the Serpent Spirit, and people are in fact praying to it:
Not too often you run into honest-to-spirits animism these days anywhere, and we had no idea that we’d find Serpent Spirit worshippers actively practicing in a rural Vietnam village.
There’s very very little information to be found on the Internet in English, but here’s one article with some more details:
Cam Luong Commune in Cam Thuy District in the northern province of Thanh Hoa has been known by visitors nationwide for Luong Ngoc Stream, also known as “God fish stream” by Muong ethnic minority in the area.
Located at the foot of Truong Sinh Mountain, Luong Ngoc is a shallow stream, around half a meter deep. The most popular fish species in the stream is Spinibarbus maensis. The name “God fish” comes from Muong people’s age-old belief that the fish is sacred and one might die if they catch or eat it…
So there you go, if you happen to be heading up the highway to Hanoi, THE GOD FISH STREAM is definitely a near unique-stop to regale your audience with tales of!