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Finding unlikely saints in unlikely places

posted 28 Nov 2012, 05:15 by Sandra Kirby   [ updated 28 Nov 2012, 18:05 ]
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I've already sent you a photo separately but for the permanent record you will see more.

The tunnels at Chu Chi were the focus of today's trip with my same guide and driver from yesterday . .
Tunnels are incredibly impressive in a war memorial kind of way - the tunnel centre was less than 5km away from main US base in the region - on the grounds that aerial bombing would be limited at that proximity.  Ingenuity is the hallmark of any tunnelling system like this and over the 17 years these tunnels were created there was a great deal of ingenuity displayed.
To enable this to be a tourist attraction the tunnels have been opened up and thatched roofs protect the ground below.  

It seemed slightly bizarre to have the opportunity (which I declined) to practice shooting artillery . . .in this monument to peace.
Huge US war cemetery close to tunnels but the main memorial to the more than 50,000 Vietnamese known to have died is the temple at Ben Duoc in Saigon.
Martyrs or saints?

Following the tunnels we drove for another 2 hours to get close to the Cambodian border and visit the largest CaoDai temple in the world.
CaoDai is a religion centred in Vietnam that incorporates Christianity (specifically Catholic),  Taoism, Buddhism and the Vietnamese Geniism.  So there's a Pope, Bishops and Cardinals, there's karma, there's messages from the other side and ancestor workshop.  The Temple I visited today is dedicated to 3 of the saints - Victor Hugo, Sun Yet San (Chinese Buddhist) and Vietnamese poet Tranh Tring.  I was struggling to find Victor Hugo's link to Vietnam but it appears to have been his life long interest in the spirit world.
Building is v colourful and ornate.  We arrived during the mid day prayers which was quite a spectacle.  Literally hundreds of people all in white - men on the right women on the left praying and singing.  The colourful people are the hierarchy who wear gowns of red (Adhering to the Christian aspects), blue (adhering to Taoism) or yellow (Buddhist)
The divine, all seeing eye is an omnipresent symbol.
But if Victor Hogo can become a saint there is hope for us all.  No record that he ever knew of this sainthood

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