Posts Tagged With: temple

Holiday Blues

I feel blue. In this time of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s I feel an oppressing pressure to be joyful. Solitude -which I treasure- turning into loneliness at warp speed and in slow motion at the same time. I do envy those who truly like being alone. And regret not being one of them. I am grateful for so much and so many but today I just feel blue. Winter creeping on me both physically and metaphorically.

A snowy cold day on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Remember the movie Inside Out? On Halloween the year the movie was out (2015), I dressed up as one of the characters: Sadness. So this is an accurate portrayal of my state of mind now.

In the past my solution to my “blueness” was to travel. But I can’t anymore, so when I’m low I reminisce and travel again in my mind. For some reason Vietnam came to it. Which is odd, for of all the countries that I visited in Southeast Asia, it was the one I connected to the least. Yet, it was there that I was introduced to Caodaism. According to caodai.org: “The noble effort of CaoDai is to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being, whatever our minor differences, in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world. CaoDai does not seek to create a gray world, where all religions are exactly the same, only to create a more tolerant world, where all can see each other as sisters and brothers from a common divine source reaching out to a common divine destiny realizing peace within and without.”

A dirt path strewn with litter that leads to…
A beautiful, well-kept building…
Which is absolutely breathtaking inside.

I realize I am in Rossmoor and that in Garden Grove, only 17 minutes away, is a Cao Dai Temple resembling the one just outside Long Xuyen, Vietnam that introduced me to this religion. Did someone say I could not travel? Off I go in a virtual journey no more.

So the path to the temple in Vietnam is dirt and rubble. Here it is busy streets that lead me to a residential area in Garden Grove, CA. I see the colors and it’s as if they are mermaids singing to me. I must go to it. Hopefully this visit has a better outcome than when the mermaids lure sailors in.

undefined They have a parking lot and as I park I hear the sounds of a language I have not learned and probably never will.

The entrance is a mini-me of the temple I so admired and moved me in Vietnam.

However the main pole in front of the temple does not have the reversed swastikas which happen to have a Buddhist influence and is sacred to many Vietnamese. The swastika (a Sanskrit word) is also a tantric symbol to evoke ‘shakti’ or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. I don’t doubt that its absence is due to trying to avoid controversy.

The one in Vietnam.

I take a few photos. Take off my shoes (as ordered) and enter another world.

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The place is smaller than than its parent in Vietnam but is just as colorful. The quiet I expected is not quite there for the side doors are open and in comes loud voices in Vietnamese from the courtyard. There’s a gathering of followers who are sprucing up the church. One side door is being primed and the other has already been painted yellow. It is noticeable that the congregation takes pride in their home. I kneel and find my inner quiet.

As I look through one of the windows and hear the background chatter, I am almost transported to Long Xuyen.

It is in the little touches of daily life and some writings that I linger.

Before leaving I explore the back of the temple. I pass about 15 people sitting around a table chatting and as they turn their head to see me, I join my hands in prayer mode and bow slightly, saying nothing. They go back to socializing; I go back to the car knowing that I will visit again.

And keeping my promise that I would end each blog with a song or two. Here are two. I did not see the movie that “I’m Standing With You” comes from (I think it’s about a mother and child) but I feel we all want that someone that stands with us through whatever we go through. I’ve been lucky to have those people beside me.

And then, one of Peter Bradley Adams, a singer that brings me happy memories. “For You” How can you not love a song that says: “If your wandering ever leads you, To a place where you don’t know which road to choose, Leave your worries behind, Take the road that leads to mine, And I’ll be waiting there for you”

Categories: California, Ramblings, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

P.D.R.

I do not want to leave Luang Prabang and am seriously considering letting my inner child take over and let her stomp her feet, throw herself on the floor, little fists in a ball, face streaked with tears and yelling: “I don’t want to gooooo!”  But the adult in me knows that it won’t go well with the rest of the group and primarily, that it will do me no good.  So my bag is packed and out the door.  I delight myself in some local flora and pretend I’m here to stay.  

Laos P.D.R. is the full name of the country.   P.D.R. stands for People’s Democratic Republic though it is also an acronym for the country’s way of life:  “Please Don’t Rush”  I don’t want to rush in its discovery.

But then comes a tuk tuk ride to the bus.  A daylong bus ride to Vang Vieng is ahead of us.  We are warned that most of it will be on a windy, bumpy road.  We are going to stop for bathroom breaks and to visit hill tribes along the way.  Noon will find us at a “pretty for pictures” mountain-high restaurant.  I mistakenly wrote I was on the “death road” yesterday.  Well my mind got things mixed up and it was today.   It is going to take us –on a good day- between 6 to 8 hours to get to our destination.

At the beginning, the road offers the usual scenery.  Fields along the way, houses, sky, mountains in the distance.  Then I doze off and awake to this…     

Suddenly the words “bumpy”, “windy”, “hill”, and “mountain-high”, connect!  I add “death-road”, “vertigo”, “ouch”, “Can I get off now?”  Later I would read that the road was “not recommended for nervous persons”.  There are few to no barriers separating the bus from a vast ravine.  Someone asks if I had fallen asleep because I was too quiet.  No, I say.  I’m just too queasy to talk!

No wonder my head hurts.  It’s been bouncing against the window.  Sort of like the head of those dogs they use for good fortune (the ones that their head bobs on any movement.) Fortunately, my palpitations will be reduced by a walk in the hill tribe village we stop at. 

We are the local entertainment.   

A protective older sister wraps her arm around her sibling and as I press my shutter gives me a look of  “don’t you mess with my sister”. 

We are invited by a local to visit his home.  In all the villages and homes we have visited there is a television and satellite alongside abject poverty.  But these people do not live in misery for they are content with who and where they are.

Kitchen at entrance.    

Our host lives in this home with his wife and 11 children.  He answers all our questions and I see in his eyes wonderment and disbelief in some of the things we are curious about.

There is a strange flickering noise in back of me that is a bit unsettling (Is something alive there?) but I don’t want to be rude, turn and potentially run out screaming if I find a strange animal resides in that corner.   

Other kids join us or come in.   

And we leave.  We are still the entertainment.     

Can you tell who will be the gang leader from this photo?  

After a few hours –many more than I like- we arrive at the restaurant for lunch.  Mr. Peng laughs as he sees my expression of horror as he parks the bus head first, facing the precipice.  Lucky me is in the front row.  Okay, you are close enough, please stop the bus, stop please, STOP, NOW!!!  

We go to “happy place” (local speak for bathroom) first.    

Then a little walk uphill towards the restaurant.  To my left a view of the road. 

To my right, a scene that could be labeled many ways.  My whole being quiets and settles.  

A view of where we came from.  We are at approximately 5,000 ft.  

Reaching the restaurant, a little figure, advertising god-knows-what, seems so out of place that we all gawk at it and name it “little happy laughing girl Buddha”.     

We eat.  Wash our hands.  Explore the surroundings a little more.  and back to the bus for another couple of hours till we stop at a mountain food market.  You aren’t tired already, are you?

We are instructed not to point our cameras at any of the dead animals that are offered (head and all).  Seems that these vendors are fully aware of Facebook and that a photo may go up that will force authorities to come in and fine or confiscate.  They sell some animals that are not supposed to be sold.  Fortunately I see none with a face to it.

There are a lot of “normal” selections of fruit and vegetables. 

Bamboo shoots.  

Banana blossom. 

Taro.  I would later have taro soup and then taro ice cream. 

And something that is nowhere near common or normal in my book.  Our guide points out what looks like a stalk of something and says that it is a delicacy in his country.  I am leery.  Delicacy = very odd, strange, gross, inedible, retching-induced!

Our vendor starts the process.

She peels.  

Almost done.  

And out comes the yuckiest of worms.  It has been cooked in the stalk but that doesn’t make it any more appetizing.   Our guide repeats it’s a delicacy and proceeds to eat it.  Amazingly, so did one of our group who told everyone it tasted like chicken.

Ohhh, the Americans ate the worm!  

Back on a bus that, at this point, nobody wants to be in.   Another hour and another stop at another happy place where, believe it or not, they sell Kit Kats and Snickers. I buy them and eat them both in a nano second!  I don’t even like chocolate but somehow it was appropriate and satisfying to do so. It didn’t stop me from trying the local taro ice cream, either.

A million years more of a bus ride (or so it seemed) and my sore bottom and me arrive in Vang Vieng.  The bus is too big for the city streets so we shall walk to the hotel.  Vang Vieng has the reputation of being a backpacker’s paradise and it lives up to the fame with advertising for tubing, zip-lining, trekking, parties, etc.  I get a kick out of one that is none of those.

Are you over seacall?  Busticker anyone?  

Sign with all the familiar breakfast (at least for the Brits) 

We had seen an ad for a balloon ride in the plane and wanted to do it but once we saw the balloon and how incredibly close he got to that building we change our minds.   

The ever-present temple along the way.  

As I look towards a street vendor, I capture her expression right before she gives me the thumbs up signal.  

Graffiti in Laos? 

Then a road that becomes indicative of the type of resort we are staying at. 

Though it hardly matters where we sleep for this is the view before us.       

We eat well.

Pumpkin soup.  

Remnant of my tilapia.   

After which I dive, literally dive onto my not so soft bed.  Lots of excitement to be had tomorrow!

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Laos, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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