Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Education of Moi (Part 3)

We are finally at the end of my review of the Pho Trail that I took with Saigon Street Eats and there was so much packed into those 3 hours that it had to be broken up into three parts on my blog. Not only was it a food feast but we got to tour around and get priceless nuggets of information. This last part is about our trip to the temple. On our way.... we saw a monk.. and Vu... who apparently is quite a softie... went over to give him some money... apparently even 5000 VND will suffice if you come across one and are feeling charitable


and after going through all the madness and variety and noise of the market ... we finally arrive at the temple... its hot..no getting away from that... but suddenly it is a lot quieter 


And when one enters one is suddenly transported to a wide open (quieter) space of green and lots of trees...


The tree behind the ladies sitting on the bench is the Buddha flower tree...


The Flower on closer inspection is beautiful


 We were pretty hot and bothered after our walk through the market so we sat for a while to enjoy our fresh coconut juices that we picked up along the way and the desserts we had procured... Barbara was having fun with the dessert called Porkskin seeing as I don't eat pork


But there is no pork in this dessert so for those who don't eat pork...this is a safe dessert to eat as its made of rice and sugar basically


Next it was time to finally get inside the temple..now there are three stages... the outer part of the temple is just the general prayer area I guess...still very ornate and beautiful... notice all the Chinese characters on the pillars... there is a reason I am pointing those out to you now which will become apparent a little later...


My understanding is one can put offerings at this altar but then there is the second stage of the temple. To be fair ...this isn't really a temple for Buddha... this is what Vu calls a Lanh.. (hope I spelled this correctly... which is a temple built in honour of someone important or brave and the people believe worshipping at his temple will bring them luck, or wealth or whatever is weighing on their minds... kind of like the subcontinental version of a mazaar I guess...


At the second stage we were met by this strange mythical creature... is it a frog..? with large horns? just couldn't figure it out


Then Vu spoke to the custodian here and apparently these are part of the ribs of a whale that were then used as decoration to this creature... If I am getting this wrong and someone has more info on this... please do share...


The next indication that this is certainly NOT a Buddhist temple is a stuffed tiger in a cage..where one is supposed to donate money for the upkeep of this shrine... from my understanding Buddhists are never supposed to hurt any animal... so don't think a stuffed tiger would have met with approval.. but as I said before this is a Lanh...


And behind the stuffed tiger is a replica of the horse that the General ... for whom this shrine has been constructed... owned and rode on apparently. Notice crazy eyes... Barbara told me she had seen one lady pray at this horse too so I'm assuming it has some kind of importance in the ritual too


The altar inside is very ornate and lit with candles and covered in fruits and incense...


And then one finds the fortune sticks. I really don't know what to call them and Im sure there is a local name for them.. These are sticks that look like popsicle sticks with numbers on them and apparently tell ur future... Superstition runs very high here... but you don't just pull out a stick and hope you get the right number...


You have to light an incense stick using the lit candle... say a word that the custodian told me... (sorry I forgot it) but don't worry if you go with Barbara and Vu they will translate for you and tell you what you need to do...


then you shake the can of the sticks pretty violently up and down till one falls... and the second one has fallen out... you stop shaking... you don't want all the sticks on the floor... the custodian was quite alarmed at my shaking abilities but apparently I managed ok before the Gods of Bad Luck were thumping on my soul


Then you take the stick that fell out to the custodian who then reads it and nods approvingly before handing you two wooden objects that you have to go back and roll out again...


one of my thingymebobs fell upside down and one fell behind me instead of in front... but the reaction I got from the custodian was of smiles... and translated into success for my plans... or success for well picked stick... not sure which ... then comes the fun part


One apparently rushes across to another room which has cupboards with numbers and bits of paper inside and you pull out the coinciding number from your stick... hmmmm... starting to feel like I'm in an episode of AXN's Amazing Race...


Found it!! Thank you Vu... and apparently we can't read it ourselves.. we have to go back to the custodian and get him to interpret the findings... and the whole time I'm thinking... Allah make me rich... Allah make me rich... Allah make me rich... don't think the temple people would have approved at all...


so the wise old man is given our slip of paper and we wait while he tells us of our fate....


Then he gets up and thumbs through a calendar to inform me of my lucky days this month to start a new business that will apparently be met with great success....


Vu was trying to explain all this to me but I kept getting distracted by the beautiful lanterns in the background... "where can I buy one like that" I whispered to Barbara... "only seen them in the temples" she whispers back... crap I think... that would be a really cool thing to have... note to self... keep a look out for these...


And finally we are in the third and innermost section of the temple... sort of santcum sanctorium of this shrine... and I'm still oggling the lantern.. this time the yellow one...


When I turned to my left this is what the window frames looked like through the iron grating.. very beautiful and ornate....

Now... do you remember I asked you to notice the Chinese characters on the pillars outside the temple? Well look closely at these characters hung up inside... apparently when the French got to Vietnam..they introduced the latin characters ...but these words of wisdom though written in Latin characters are done in the Chinese style... We could have gone for lunch after this tour but we were still full from the delicious Pho we had eaten so Barbara drove me home with a detour of the small alleyways in the middle of the city... very exciting....

And that was my real first insight into Vietnam and food and sights and sounds.... got me all excited to discover even more... I hope you feel the excitement too and feel adventurous enough to make some discoveries of your own too.. maybe you have some discoveries to share here? Next I will be writing about the seafood experience on Snail street... !!

1 comment:

Maha Khan said...

This was very good. I felt as if I was also on board. Riding behind Barbara on my imaginary scotter.

To PRINT