Aug 172013

Breakfast at the hotel.  Nghi picked me up as promised at 7:15 to go to the Thein Mu pagoda.  We were traveling by scooter and it was a beautiful ride along the perfume River.  This Pagoda is the only Pagoda on the river and it is the oldest dating back to the 1600’s.  There is a very large laughing Buddha and there was a couple with a new baby to have prayers and blessings.  It was quite beautiful.

Also here is the baby blue Austin that drove the monk Thich Quag Due to Saigon where he set himself on fire and burned to death in protest of the excesses of the Diem regime.  The car is beautiful and kept in a covered space.  I took pictures if you are interested

Another interesting thing about this pagoda is that it is a place whre young boys are left by their families to be cared for and educated by the monks.  At the age of 18 they are then given the choice to leave or stay and become a monk.  According to Nghi most of the boys will leave.  They were studying Chinese at the time we were there.  It was quite interresting.  Especially so since the physical surroundings are well kept and in great contrast to the conditions up at BaVi.

From the pagoda we went to the very, very large market- everything imaginable from shoes and clothes to housewares and foods of all sorts.  The women with cleavers were wacking pigs, chicken and things that I do not know the names for.  It was quite wonderful.

From there I checked out and was taken back to the train station which was much less chaotic than Hanoi.  When it was announced that the trian would be an hour late arriving everyone sat patiently- yeh, just like New York!  The train was similar to the one I had taken down from Hanoi with one very BIG exception it not only had a real toilet but there was actually toilet paper (for a short time).  Even though this was a longer ride it seemed to go more easily.  I arrived in Ho Chi Minh at 5:30 and my guide Cong was waiting for me.  He drove me to my hotel and although it was very early Sunday morning and there was little traffic it was clear that despite the fact that Saigon is a much bigger city and far more cosmopolitan than Hanoi the traffic was going to be a bit more predictable.
When we got to the hotel the room was ready.  It is a large bright room on the 8th floor with a view of the river and BIG jaccuzi tub.  Only down side is no computer in the room so I will need to email and post in the lobby.  No big deal.  I am now waiting for Cong to pick me up and begin the touring of the city.  By the way, I have had no rain in many days and I seem to be better tolerating the heat.  I will let you know how humid it is down here after the day today…


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