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Published: September 29th 2013
28th September 2013
Mark up early to go for a run and do stair repeats?!
Breakfast was a foodies heaven, fresh fruit, asian fair, french fair, whatever you want really.
Picked up at 7.30 to go to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi tunnels.
Two and a half hour drive to start with, maximum speed 60km, average around 40kmph, number of horn beeps - mmmm about 10,000, and I'm sure the horn sounded louder inside the bus than out.
Arrived at the Great Holy See Temple about 11.30am. Just in time for a quick walk around and then up in the galleries to watch some of the midday prayer ceremony. The Cao Dai sect is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Roman Catholic, formed in 1927 in response to the government restricting some religious practices. There are 9 steps in the temple and you pray on the level you have reached. Everyone wears white, nuns have a headdress, priests wear red, blue or yellow. We were only there for 20min of the ceremony, it goes oft 1.5 hrs, I felt
like I really wanted to join in the meditation, It was quite mesmerising. I am going to have to research it further as it has sparked my curiosity. The temple was like a candy wonderland. It was a burst of colour as you'll see from the photos below. Not quite the subtle tones we are used to in the Catholic Church. Their religious "symbol" is an eye, an all seeing eye. The eye looked very real complete with blood vessels and all.
Lunch at a local restaurant, nothing fancy but fresh and tasty. It had the most beautiful orchids in the garden.
Another hour in the bus to the Cu Chi tunnels. On the way we watched a 1967 propaganda video about the tunnels and why they were built.
The tunnels were amazing. The forrest is only young still as it is all new growth, the original forrest was flattened by agent orange and bombs on the war/conflict.The Viet Cong were quite resourceful and ingenious in their fighting methods and I can see why the US soldiers were very scared of them. As a claustrophobia sufferer, it was a very big
call on wether I went down in the tunnels or not. That was last on the tour and by then I thought I would try to be brave and give it a go. They said the first exit would be after 20 meters, so I thought I could cope with that.
Down we went, a guide with a torch in front, a few lights along the way. I was bent over at my waist walking double all the way. We missed the 20 metre mark and continued on, panic was beginning to set in and I started telling myself I can do this, you are fine. I thought I was saying this in my head but Mark, behind me, could hear me loud and clear! Just when I thought I couldn't do any more we got to an exit, none too soon. It took about 10 min for my breathing and heartbeat to settle down, but I DID IT. How the Vietnamese lived down there I have no idea. It was a very interesting experience.
We saw school children finishing school at 11.30. They go to school 6 days a week but only for
4 hours a day. They go either morning or afternoon. The high school girls uniform is a white traditional long pants and dress, very impractical colour to be riding on pushbikes through paddy fields, but they look beautiful.
There were a lot of rubber plantations along the roads, all the trees had the tapping rings around them, I haven't seen rubber trees before. So the landscape was alternating rice fields, rubber plantations and villages all with a shop in front of most of the houses selling various wares. One of the big exports from Vietnam are cashews, so when we stopped for a rest break we bought a container of cashews for $3.50, huge, fresh and yum.
A couple of beers at the little bar from last night, met our Aussie friend Malcolm again and exchanged stories of our day. On to a lovey restaurant for dinner. Stopped at a little shop on the way home to buy some water, 2 beers and 2 bottles of water $2.50 - bargain!
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