Instead of booking the tour from our hostel, we inquired at other travel agencies in Pham Ngu Lao and got a deal two-dollar cheaper. It’s only two dollars, but hey, that’s already worth a meal in HCM!
Our guide picked us up from the hostel at around 8AM and joined a small tour group of Filipinos, Japanese and Europeans. One of the Filipinos is also an Elbi graduate and our batchmate! But we didn’t really bond, heh.
We traveled two hours to reach the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, a province in southwestern Vietnam. On our way, our tour guide John introduced us to the religion Caodaism, which was started in the province. According to Wikipedia (not John because I forgot many of what he said haha), Caodaism is a monotheistic religion and its full name means “The Great Faith Third Universal Redemption.” The symbol of the faith is the Left Eye. This reminds of KALK, a sect in the Philippines. There’s a temple near our house and they also have the eye as their symbol. Anyway.
The faith has influences from the Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, and even from historical figures like Van Gogh and Marco Polo. True enough, we saw symbols and images from the said religious groups in the temple.
Once arriving, we were welcomed with a grand architecture with all colors of the rainbow. It’s really a standout. We arrived at around 11 a.m., and it was an awe-striking temple at the end of a long driveway.
We were given a few minutes to strike poses and take photos in front of the temple. It was incredibly hot, though!
As you can see, Mariel take great stolen shots. How unfair, right? Aika and I just want to good jump shots, but we don’t always get what we want. I’m sorry, Aiks. These are too good not to post.
Everyday, the service starts at 12. The time we visited, there were mostly elderly attending the ceremony since it’s a weekday and students are in school. Though there were teens, they only numbered into a handful and there weren’t any kids.
Before the ceremony we were allowed to roam inside the temple. We entered through the side door and saw up-close the roof details. Everything was just so colorful and seemed thought out.
It was marvelous, every spot filled with color. There were so many things to see that you might miss something. I mostly stayed in the aisle, but apparently you can stand in the middle. Taking photos and videos are allowed but selfies are apparently a no-no. We had a silly crush on one of the Europeans named Alejandro, but he was scolded when he tried to take a selfie.
Before the service started, our guide lead us to the viewing area where we could witness the service. I don’t know how I feel about the entire thing. I mean, it’s not a performance nora theatrical act. It felt a bit intrusive to ogle at the Caodaists as they practice their faith.
When the program started, my friends and I just sat around in the back. The tour group didn’t wait for the entire service to end and only stayed for 15 minutes.
After that, we went to a nearby restaurant to have our lunch before heading off to Cu Chi Tunnel. The meal was pretty plain and I think most of the people didn’t enjoy their food. Unsurprisingly, I did enjoy my lunch.
As for the second half of the day, I’ll leave that for another entry, which I’ll post in probably ten years. We’ll see!
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