Buddhism with Vietnamese Characteristics, Da Nang

The Buu Dai Son Pagoda (Chùa Bửu Đài Sơn) is one of my favorites in the Da Nang / Hoi An area. It sits facing the sea (my back is to the beach and the East Sea) several kilometers from downtown Da Nang on the seaside road heading to the Son Tra peninsula. Like many Buddhist sites in Southeast Asia, Buu Dai Son is garish and colorful, in this case in a distinctly Vietnamese way. I looked but could not find the date this pagoda was founded or the date its current structures were built, though I have no doubt the buildings are of recent origin. At the same time, there is no question that the designer was inspired by historical sites like the Eastern Guard Tower in Hue and numerous other traditional Vietnamese structures, both religious and secular in origin, scattered throughout the country.

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The Stele Pavilion, Tu Duc’s Tomb, Hue, Vietnam

A few tree and shrub species shed their leaves in what passes for winter in central Vietnam. This photo was shot in December of 2018, and I like how the barren trees in the foreground set off the Stele Pavilion in the center of the image. Another shot of the stele close up appears in my previous post. This structure is one of the key buildings in the Tu Duc Mausoleum area. There is a massive stone tablet inside, on which the emperor’s biography is written. Although Tu Duc had many wives, he was also childless; a case of smallpox left him impotent. In the event, the biography inscribed on the stele was written by Tu Duc himself and this was considered a bad omen for the dynasty. After Tu Duc’s death in 1883, the Nguyen throne passed to an adopted son.

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The Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, Hue

The season is right, but this photo of a shrine within the mausoleum’s extensive grounds was actually taken four years ago in 2018 – wow, time flies. The compound where the Nguyen dynasty emperor Tu Duc (1848-1883) was laid to rest is one of several imperial mausoleums surrounding Hue, the only one I have visited to date. I took a series of photos that have been sitting in a file directory ever since. Taking a look now.

Hue was the capital city of the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam’s final dynasty that came to an end in 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated. The city is a fascinating place featuring cultural, historical and religious sites, great food, an incomprehensible local dialect, and photo opportunities at every turn. More visits to Hue are in order.

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Government House, Annapolis, MD

Annapolis is the capital city of Maryland and home to the US Naval Academy. It is a lovely, manicured, very affluent small city. The Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol building in continuous service in the US (since 1772) was covered in scaffolding while it got a facelift. So I had to make do with this photo of the entrance to Government House, Maryland’s governor’s mansion, located across the street from the State House.

In one of those historical ironies that I very much enjoy, the next resident of Government House will be Maryland Governor-elect, Wes Moore; he will be the state’s first African-American governor. The man who designed Government House, completed in 1870, was named Richard Snowden Andrews, an architect and, during the Civil War, a general in the Confederate States Army. Hope you are rolling over in your grave, traitor.

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The High Line, New York City

A friend spoke highly of the High Line, and I decided walking the trail would be a good way to spend a morning in Manhattan before heading to Baltimore by train in the afternoon. It was a beautiful walk on an end-of-summer day – quiet in a city not noted for quiet, secluded in parts, with views of the Hudson River and Chelsea in other parts. Very pleasant, very relaxing. The southern end of the trail is next to the Whitney Museum – if you have the time (alas, I did not), you can combine the High Line with a visit to the museum.

From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line): The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. … The abandoned spur has been redesigned as a “living system” drawing from multiple disciplines which include landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology. The High Line was inspired by the 4.7 km (2.9 mi) long Promenade plantée (tree-lined walkway), a similar project in Paris completed in 1993.

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