After our Top Gear style bike ride yesterday we thought we would have a late start. Slept in and had a late breakfast. We just relaxed at the hotel, played pool, chilled in the hotel room had several naps. Before we knew it, it was after lunch and decided to get out and do something.
We decided to take a Dragon Boat down to the Thien Pagoda. There were some boat operators just behind the hotel, so we only had a short walk to get there. As per usual we negotiated a price. They started out at about 150kVND per person. We said ‘No way, the guy up the street can do it for 100kVND per person’ After some further negotiating and pretending to walk away we got them down to 100kVND p/person.
We got into the boat and they offered us a seat. The seat being a tiny plastic chair. I found it quite amusing. We got on our waY up the river and then the weather closed in. It absolutely pissed down with rain. We were however lucky to have the rain hold out for a bit when we arrived to the Pagoda.
The Thien Pagoda is still an active Budhist temple and school. Massive gong’s and drums at the entrance and a huge brass bell to the left. As we got in further to the center of the pagoda, there was the temple. Still active for praying. A young budhist student hit a brass bowl five times and the sound echoed throughout the temple. The only bad thing about the place was that all of the artifacts and statues were covered by perspex containers, more to preserve their state, but it took a bit away from the place. Brendan and I lit some insence that was buring in the massive pot at the front of the temple.
we continued thru and discovered that this was the place where ‘The Most Vunerable’ drove his car to saigon and burnt himself alive in protest of the way religion was being discriminated against by the communist government.
From The Post ‘A Relic‘
Whilst at the Thien Quang Pagoda I discovered that this is where the infamous photo of the burning man came from. A lot of you will know it from the cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Self Titled 1992 Album.
They have the actual car at the Pagoda and has been kept in the same condition as when Thien burnt himself alive in protest. Here is the quote from the plaque in front of the Car.
‘In this car The Most Venerable Thien Quang Duc went from Ân Quang Pagoda to the intersection oh Phan dinh Phung street and Lê van Duyêt street on June 11, 1963 in Saigon. As soon as he got out of the car, The Most Venerable sat down in the lotus position and burnt himself to death to protest against the Nao dinh Diem regime’s policies of discriminating against Buddhists and violating religious freedom’
End of Post ‘A Relic‘
We got back into our boat and made our way back up the river. The lady on the boat had all these clothes and postcards layed out on the floor to sell them to us. Of course Mum got sucked into buying them. We got back to the hotel and had a chance to relax and chill before we headed back into town for dinner.
It was mums choice for dinner, so she picked a place from the Indochina handbook and we got in a cab. The taxi driver dropped us off at the top of a street, he pointed down the street and said ‘you walk down there’ We didnt really understand what he was on about, maybe he was not allowed to drive down this street. So we got out and made our way down.
We stumbled accross a resturaunt/tour place that does a cooking class, this also happend to be the same place that Brendan had looked up on the interwebs earlier that afternoon. We walked in and booked a cooking class for the Monday. We had to convince the girl to pick us up later in the morning as we would be tired from the 7/8hr tour to the DMZ on the Sunday. Altho hessitant, she agreed. Well she didnt have much of a choice, it was either 10am or no class/no money for her.
We continued up the street to find this resturaunt. We got asked by several places to ‘please come in and eat’ however we continued up to the resturaunt that mum picked. The place was empty and didnt look to inviting. We walked back to the one on the corner. The Why Not Cafe.
This place looked cool, kinda like a tiny corner pub in collingwood. They had good music playing and cheap drinks. When I say cheap i mean CHEAP!! Luda Beer Stein, 650ml 1.25AUD!! Amazing.
We got the traditional entree of spring rolls, and for main I thought i would try the parma. They came back and said, ‘we have no potato for fries, but we have mash’ That doesnt make sense, no spuds but they can do mash, more like Deb, just add water.
Whilst we were sitting down enjoying our drinks a lot of young tourists started go enter the place to drink and play pool.
After dinner we got chatting to them and as it turns out most of them are from Melbourne. Thats crazy!! Two of them are from Vermont Sth, thats like just around the corner from our place!! Brendan and I decided to kick on and chat, drink and play pool. Mum and Dad called it a night and went back.
It was good fun, drinking the cheap steins, chatting with people my own age. Before we knew it the place was packed with young tourists, two girls from Germany, a couple from England, 3 guys from melbourne, 3 girls from melbourne and some other randoms who i forget where they are from (1.25 steins will do that)
I looked at the time and it was almost midnight, I had to get up at about 7 for the DMZ tour, so I called it a night. I had such a great time at that bar. Was good to let loose and chat with all those people. I got a cab back to the hotel and fell asleep straight away, or passed out, you decide