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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Vactioning Monks, Luang Prabang

There was a group of a couple of dozen young monks visiting Wat Xiengthong when I was there. The monks I have seen in Thailand have not been particularly outgoing, so I did not pay much attention to this group and went about my business taking photos. Eventually, one of the group approached me and said hello. It turned out the monks were students at a university in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. I am not sure if they were at a Buddhist school of some kind or attending a public university. In any case, they were touring several places in Laos to visit well-known holy sites, of which Wat Xiengthong is definitely one.

Once the first guy worked up the nerve to say hello, it was open season and a number of people came up to meet and talk with me. All of them were very friendly and disarmingly charming. Most spoke decent English and one monk spoke very good Chinese. It was fun talking to him for a few minutes, as I rarely use my Chinese these days. Meeting an American was definitely a novelty and there were numerous questions asked. Pictures were taken. I was invited to accompany the group to another site somewhere in Luang Prabang. I was interested, but this was my final day in Laos and I had to make my way back to the guesthouse soon to check out. I could not really figure out how far away the other place was and so had to decline the invitation. Alas.

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