Woke up not too late not too early, Sam went off to do museums and Ryan and I just wanted to hang out. We walked around and went to a nice shirt place, you get what you pay for and we accidentally got his and hers shirts. Same colors different design so we match quite well. It was funny. We ate lunch at burger king where I had a coupon for 1 chicken wing for 25k Dong.
The guy laughed at me when that was all I ordered, went back to get a whopper after. We went to the gecko bar after because the wifi was good there and had a coffee, still loving the ice coffee here, cannot get over it. Went to the hostel after for the free beer and Sam and I headed out to the lake to meet up with some friends of his. At the lake we met some university students that had an assignment to talk with foreigners to practice their English. We talked to them for about 40 minutes. It was cool to see that they were so interested in hearing us talk, had good fun and laughs with them. We kept walking and found some roller skaters but with only two wheels, Sam tried first with a local girl helping us balance, we never able to grasp the logic but had fun trying.
We then met Sam’s friends and we went to a local noodle place recommended by the students. They had only one dish being served there, it was 25k for the dish and it was dry noodles with some sort of pork jerky. It was good and spicy. A nice little local dish, had trouble ordering because no one spoke English.
Went back to the hostel afterwards and called it a night because we had the perfume pagoda the next day early.
We left at around 8:45, I was still tired with a soar throat and cough. We got picked up by a bus and left for the pagoda. It was a packed bus 3/4 locals because it was the Buddhist holiday for 3 months and everyone needed to go for their prayers of luck and happiness for the next year. We get there and it’s a 45 minute row boat ride to the pagoda. Once we got there, there was a lot of restaurants and shops, serving more authentic Vietnamese things. No English menus here or western food. There was cats, porcupines, rats and octopus everywhere along with a lot of Vietnamese snacks which tasted like crunchy doughnuts, it was great, I got a couple.
We went inside where we saw one of the temples at the entrance it was very nice and a lot of Vietnamese people were praying, I kept my distance and made sure to not get in the way of everyone, merely just observe. Most of the group wanted to take the cable car up but I felt that defied the purpose of the perfume pagoda being a journey or pilgrimage. So Sam, Ryan and I started the hike to the top. It wasn’t as natural as I thought it was going to be, the path was covered by tarps and the sides littered with vendors from the bottom to the peak. Sam and I stopped at one vendor that had a giant double pipe thing for smoking tobacco and we decided to try it. There’s one person at each end of the pipe and it’s a sequence of slowly cooking the tobacco and blowing and slowly cook it again then you both inhale. We didn’t have this figured out at the time so the locals laughed at us and asked for pictures with us as per usual.
We kept walking up, it was a nice hike and we worked up a good sweat. We got to the main temple which is on the inside of a cave, this is where there was the most people, all praying to Buddha for luck and happiness for the next year, there was garbage on the ground everywhere and cheeky lighting. Initially, it bugged me but then I started thinking that these people don’t have access to all the technology that we have back home so for them this is something quite extravagant and they don’t have the same cleanliness standards we have because there are more important things than a piece of garbage on the floor.
We got back around 8:00pm and decided to go for Banh mi, so we looked around town and tried two different places, they were great, so good. I will miss bunh mi! There was the night market going on because it was friday night, so it was cool to see all the vendors and streets closed off. We called it an early night because we were exhausted and I was fighting a cold.
It was good to get out of the city and see one of the traditions of the Vietnamese Buddhists but it was not anything as magical I expected it to be. The perfume pagoda was named so because apparently you are supposed to smell all the different herbs of the area while you are climbing it, but I believe the commercialization might have ruined it. Still a cool experience. To more adventuring on the next day 🙂
Stay awesome and follow your dreams.