20th of August – Arrived in Hue
From Ho Chi Minh city I went to the airport by motor taxi that took only 10 minutes. Luckily my hostel was near so I didn’t have to wake up that early. Then I flew to Hue city. As my mum knows a lot of Buddhist master, I asked her to contact the master there for me. The master talked to me a lot before my arrival and he scheduled a taxi driver to come for me.
As I headed out I saw a person holding a paper with my name. He took me to the accommodation. I thought I would live in the temple like before but the master scheduled a guesthouse nearby for me as the temple of the female monk is too hot and they were afraid I might feel too uncomfortable.
When I arrived I had to pay the driver 250.000 VND which I think was a bit too much. I was dropped at the temple of the female monk and a girl came out to me. She invited me in. They were having lunch so I joined as well. I was a bit surprised by the simple food and the place. Didn’t really know where I was. But the monks were understanding and gave me time to adjust. Then the girl took me to the guesthouse nearby. I stayed there during my stay in Hue. The surrounding was amazing though. It was in the nature. There were a lot of Buddhist temple in the forest and hills. I guess walking around would be nice too but never really had time to do that.
I had a rest and took a shower then I called the girl. She showed me the temples around. Turned out before it was a cemetery but later the government developed the area so there are many temples, guesthouse and people there. We crossed a cemetery area which I found a bit bizarre. We arrived to a temple that had lake. It would be enjoyable if there weren’t too much mosquitoes. That temple was for the men only.
Vietnamese Buddhism has two way to practice the religion. I don’t know their name. You can differentiate it by looking at the temples and outfit of the monks. One is the traditional Vietnamese. The other one probably originated from other southeast country as the temple’s architecture looks like the Thai or Laos one and it looks very fancy.
Then the girl took me to the shop as I wanted to buy clothes for my nieces. Later we passed by the market. Market had everything and it would be cheap and better to buy there. Though there were so many people and I didn’t feel nice being there so I didn’t buy anything. After dinner I went back to my hotel to put down the bought things.
Paper straw in Vinpearl rooftop bar
In the evening the master called a taxi and took us to his temple. His temple was in the village and it was pretty far. As it was already dark I couldn’t see anything from the surrounding. The temple itself was huge though. Then we all went to Vinpearl hotel’s rooftop bar.
It felt quite strange to go to a bar with Buddhist monks. I realized I was following stereotype and found things strange that shouldn’t be. After all, I acknowledge that the Buddhist monks are human as well. To be honest, until they don’t drink alcohol or do something bad, there is no problem. We all asked for fruit shake. I was quite surprised by the quality of the straw. It was soaked.
I realized it was because they used paper straw. I felt so relieved that they changed it. It means the Vietnamese starts to be aware of the environment more. I grew to like Vinpearl more because of that. The view from the top to Hue city at night was amazing. All the lights were coming on.
I felt a bit bored though as I was craving for something more traditional. I guess I wanted to take a break from modernity for a while. At around 10pm we went home.
I can’t say I wasn’t tired. But going around was more fun so even if I wanted to stay at the hotel I still brought myself outside.
21st of August – Engaging in the nature of Hue
Huyen Khong San Thuong temple
On the second day the girl took me to the temple for breakfast. Then she and another monk took me to visit Huyen Khong San Thuong. It’s one of the biggest and most important temple in the mountain. The biggest master lives in the mountain and not everyone can visit him. Only if he let the people visiting him. It is said there are cups on the mountain for the masters to practice meditation. Though only those who have a higher rank in Buddhism can go up there. Since I was with female monks who aren’t at that level yet, I could only visit the available area.
I didn’t know many tourist would find a way there though. There were many people going there. On the way to the temple the road wasn’t the best. It wasn’t even and it was in the middle of the rice field. I wondered if I was alone how would I be able to find a way there. I was lucky to have the monks going with me.
The area was spectacular and breathtaking. I coudn’t believe how beautiful Hue was. It was full of green and nature. When we arrived to the temple we hiked a little bit and walked around. I was thinking if one day I became a monk I would definitely choose this temple.
Huge Bodhisattva statue
After walking around we went to other place where there was a big Bodhisattva statue (Tuong Dai Quan The Am Bo Tat). A long stairs were leading up there. It was a kind of terrifying experience. When we arrived to the entrance, they asked whether we wanted to buy incense and water. I didn’t understand what that was for. Then the monk bought them. At the same time some old woman came out surrounding us to ask for money. I didn’t know what to do that time. Shall I give them money? Then the female monk gave them the changes. It turned out they were so poor that they didn’t have more choice than begging.
We arrived at the bottom of the stairs. The monk burnt the incences for me and told me to stick some in the incense bowls on the way up to the statues. That was the way praying for our wish. I did it. Then when I arrived to the statue I saw how other people prayed. They opened the lid of the bottle and stuck some incense at the side of the bottle and left it there for few minutes while praying. Some left it until the incense burnt out. Then the rest of the incense they stuck it into the big bowl in front of the statue. The water they drank it. It meant their pray would help them.
I was more excited by the view. It was in the high after all. Then we went home. I was pretty tired as the road all took at least 30 minutes. Moreover the weather was hot. We arrived back and I got a rest.
In the evening the master called the taxi to come for me and we went to drink royal tea at Vy Da. Royal tea is the tea where they put all the healthy herbs into the cup with lid and pour hot water in. The taste lasts forever. The amount of a small cup would be enough for the whole day. We only had to pour hot water in. It looked like the way people drink tea in historical Asian movies. The ambiance and the tea-house was amazing as well.
My day went on amazingly. The best part was that I realized how traditional and natural Hue was. After all it is the historical capital.