VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Ha Noi

History - Orientation - Information - Dangers Annoyances - Sights - Activities - Walking Tour - Courses - Ha Noi For Childern - Tour - Festivals Events - Sleeping - Eating - Drinking - Entertainment - Shopping - Getting There Away - Getting Around - Around Ha Noi - Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum - Perfume Pagoda - Handicraft Villages - Thay Tay Phuong Pagoadas - Ba Vi National Park - Co Loa Citadel - Tam Dao Hill Station.

THAY & TAY PHUONG PAGODAS

Stunning limestone outcrops loom up from the emerald green paddy fields and cling ing to the cliffs are these two pagodas, about 20 minutes apart from each other by road. Thay Pagoda (Master's Pagoda; admission 5000d), also known as Thien Phuc (Heavenly Blessing), is dedicated to Thich Ca Buddha (Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha). To the left of the main altar is a statue of the 12th-century monk Tu Dao Hanh, the maste.' in whose honour the pagoda is named. To the right is a statue of King Ly Nhan Tong, who is believed to have been a reincarnation of Tu Dao Hanh. In front of the pagoda is a small stage built on stilts in the middle of a pond; water-puppet shows are staged here during tests vals. Follow the path around the outside of the main pagoda building, and take a steep 10-minute climb up to a beautiful smaller pa goda perched high on the rock. Thay Pagoda is:' big and confusing complex for non-Buddhists consider hiring a pagoda guide to get the rnost from a visit. The pagoda's annual festival is held from the fifth to the seventh days of the third lunar month. Pilgrims and other visitors enioy watching water-puppet shows, hiking am exploring caves in the area. Tay Phuong Pagoda (Pagoda of the West; admission 5000d), also known as Sung Phuc Pa goda, consists of three single level structure-built in descending order on a hillock said to resemble a buffalo. The figures repre-senting 'the conditions of man1 are carved from jackfruit wood, many dating trom the 18th century, and are the pagoda's most cel-ebrated feature, The earliest construction here dates from the 8th century. Take the steep steps up to the main pagoda building, then find a path at the back that loops down past the other two pagodas and wanders through the hillside village that surrounds the complex.
MRS THUYEN, BOAT WOMAN
Anyone who visits the Perfume Pagoda will approach the sacred mountain by rowing boat. Here, one of the rowers tells her story: 'I've rowed tourists to the Perfume Pagoda for about two years now. Our boat group is made up of 27 boats rowed by women who all belong to martyrs' families - our husbands or fathers or children were killed or injured in the war. There arc more than 100 of us in the same group but only 27 of us are allowed to work at one time, so there's an annual lottery to establish which of us will row each year. So I may not work every year, but when I do it's consistent and I get paid 30,000d every day, regardless of how many trips I do, or even if there's no work for a day or two. 'You see our group of martyrs families has priority for rowing all the foreigners. It’s easier because there are fewer people in the boat and if we're lucky we get tips. Other boats have compete on their own for customers and sometimes might not have any and might not make any money. A boat costs about one million dong, and we all save to buy our own. Every there or four years we have to change the floor of the boat and that costs 300,000d. 'We all also have a plot of land nearby, and we grow and sell things when we're not working on the boats. I grow longan fruit. My husband raises bees; he moves his hives around other people’s plantations depending on what's flowering, and pays for the bees' use of the flowers with a litre or two of honey. Honey sells for about 80,000d a litre. Last year was a bad year; my husband only made 50L all year, but in the first three months of this year he's already made 30L ‘I used to be a soldier; that's how t met my husband. Our children are 19, 16 and 14 years o!d and when they were little I didn't row the boat; I sold jewellery and incense at the pagoda it's hard work but I think about my children finishing their study and becoming successful and that keeps me going’.