My visit to the food markets of Vietnam served up colorful and sometimes chaotic eye candy. The bird sanctuary at Bang Lang fed my obsession with birding. This next stop of my Southeast Asia journey fed my soul.
After sailing down the Mekong River to an area seldom seen by most visitors, we boarded a smaller boat to get us through the adjoining narrow Hau River to another walk-the-plank moment to debark:
Teaser: The above two photos portend a most magical moment coming up in a later post.
We were now at one of the most gently beautiful bridges I have ever crossed leading us into the Phuoc Hau Pagoda complex:
Erected in the second half of the 18th century, this compound is one of the foundations of the Zen Buddhist movement in Vietnam and its tenets intertwine with national tradition and life. Interestingly, it was also a base of resistance operations to American troops during the Vietnam War.
No vestige of this anti-American sentiment exists at Phuoc Hau today. Instead my senses were bathed in the cool, balanced, serene, calm that pervaded. Flowers offered up gentle perfumes:
The perfect balance of plants and trees and flowers and stone and sky and rock created a haven for reflection:
Even the butterflies seemed “strategically” to appear to add grace and beauty:
There was also a path that meandered around a circle of stones with painted meditative thoughts. Although the words were in Vietnamese, it was easy to lose oneself in the contemplative atmosphere:
I found this last column of stone particularly fascinating as it form is found all over the world often known as “cairns. This, from Wikipedia:
A cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn [ˈkʰaːrˠn̪ˠ] (plural càirn [ˈkʰaːrˠɲ]). Cairns have been and are used for a broad variety of purposes, from prehistoric times to the present. In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. However, since prehistory, they have also been built and used as burial monuments; for defense and hunting; for ceremonial purposes, sometimes relating to astronomy; to locate buried items, such as caches of food or objects; and to mark trails, among other purposes. Cairns may be painted or otherwise decorated, whether for increased visibility or for religious reasons.
These stone piles in particular reminded me of the Inukshuk of Canada. Remember my encounter with them while reading an alphabet book to some Cambodian children in an earlier post? You can also read about them here.
I love when I discover similarities – as I have mentioned one of the main reasons I started exploring the world near and far is to find where I fit.
It’s warming to know that while our paths are diverse – in many wonderful ways we are all connected.