Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pagoda (City Tour - Saigon, Day 2)

Day 2 of the visit of my two Indonesian girlfriends was spent by visiting Pagoda. 

It was a good weather i.e. neither sunny nor cloudy.  It was good for outdoor activities.

Charging our battery before the sightseeing

We had brunch at Tibs Vietnamese restaurant in Hai Ba Trung Street.  Again, we went to a restaurant which is located a little bit secluded.  The restaurant sign was hung at the front gate.  We then walked towards the restaurant, this small street is part of the restaurant and it is not a public street.  Restaurant occupies an ethnic Chinese look like building, Wi-Fi facility, nice ambiance, good food.

Tib Vietnamese Restaurant

Pagoda, Myth, Good Luck

After having our battery fully charged, we proceed to the first destination.  Another Mr. Vinasun taxi driver drove us to this Pagoda.  He speaks English well.  I should say that he is the best English speaking taxi driver I ever met in Saigon.  He kept on talking and talking.  He used to work in Japan for three years before returning to Saigon.  He said that however his English is less fluent as his Japanese.  Interesting…
Being innocent about Pagoda, I thought it is a good idea to visit this one with my girlfriends as I understand that Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is the biggest one in Saigon.  So the three musketeers or Charlie’s Angels were on their way to the Pagoda.  They have never visited to any Pagoda either, so we had all of the excitement.

The excitement was backed-up by a new fact that this taxi driver knows how to deal with tourists.  He has a list of places as tourist destinations in Saigon!  He offered to wait and take us to another destination.  He kept on talking and showed us the list of Pagodas in the city.

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

He explained that there are Giac Lam pagoda is the oldest Pagoda in Saigon, and Thien Hau Pagoda brings good luck.  I overlooked his list, I saw the pagoda picture and I told myself it is a beautiful old pagoda which reminds me of ancient sights in Hoi An old town.

Having three girls in the taxi, of course the phrase "bringing good luck" attracted our attention, especially to my single girlfriend, LOL.

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Talking about good luck; once a wise man says; good luck, bad luck, no one knows.  That day was a good day (not sunny either cloudy).  I have not mentioned that I lost my blackberry that morning, which I only noticed when we arrived at the restaurant.  I couldn’t tell if it was missing in the taxi from hotel to restaurant or it was left behind at the hotel’s lobby.  However, the hotel said there was no phone whatsoever left behind.  Anyway, I managed to contact my loved one through the concierge of my apartment.  He managed to block my phone number.  My girlfriends and I had good food in a unique place.  We met with an English speaking taxi driver.  Who knows what luck comes to our horizon.
Can you see the inside part of the Pagoda?

The Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm)

We arrived at the first Pagoda which is located in District 3.  Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is indeed a nice big Pagoda in an area of 6,000 m².  This is the first pagoda in Vietnam to be built in Vietnamese traditional architecture style but with concrete.  The highest structure in this pagoda is the 7-story, 40m-high tower.   Official website of the Pagoda:

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Entering the Pagoda yard, we had to climb up the stairs in order to see the main door of the Pagoda.  There is a big bell on the right side.  It was a quiet afternoon with only a few visitors.  After a while, there were more tourists coming.  As if our visit attracted those visitors.

As the weather was friendly, it was fun taking pics at the courtyard of the Pagoda.

Thien Hau Pagoda

Thien Hau (Thiên Hâu) Pagoda

Second destination was the Thien Hau Pagoda, as per the suggestion of the taxi driver.  He waited for us while we were taking pics at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.

When were in a taxi, when he was kept on talking about Thien Hau Pagoda, one thing that I noticed is its location in District 6, meanwhile we were at District 3.  I was guessing about the distance and the traffice, but in reality, it seemed like longer.  We couldn't tell if he drove straight to the destination, or took us round and round.  He definitely had us to wait for him to pick up his lunch, maybe three minutes.  He stopped his taxi next to Saigon Trade Tax Center, stepped out to get his lunch box and coffee.  He was so proud telling us that the food was prepared by his wife.  I thought it was so sweet.   He opened his coffee while driving, and it was smell good...

Beautiful ornaments on top of the Pagoda entrance door

Finally we arrived at Thien Hau Pagoda.  It is actually not far from Hung Vuong Plaza.  While we were in the taxi, we were not sure if this guy would reach to the right place.  Anyway, after spending around 50 minutes sitting in the taxi and our mind was wondering around about Pagoda good luck myth, we confirmed that it was worth the travel. 

Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu (The Pagoda of the Lady Thien Hau) is a Chinese style temple located in a busy Nguyen Trai Street in the Cho Lon (Chinatown) District.  It is more beautiful than we expected.  Thanks to Mr. taxi driver who brought us to this place.  As reference:,_Ho_Chi_Minh_City

From the outside, the Pagoda does not seem big. The front part is not wide but it is long to the rear. Once we stepped into its courtyard, we started to see the beautiful inside part of the Pagoda.  We could see the smoke from the burning ancient burning.  Again, not long after we arrived, we could see more visitors coming to pray or just to visit the Pagoda.   We walked passing a group of Indonesians, we could tell from the strong Indonesian Javanese accent.

There are two boards on the left and right sides, pieces of pink papers were stuck to those boards, I was guessing that there are ‘wishing’ or ‘prayers’ from the visitors.  There was a lady who was surrounded by people.  I was guessing she is a paranormal answering people’s queries.  Unfortunately my Vietnamese has not reached the survival level so I could not understand what they were talking about. 

At the Thien Hau Pagoda. It's only my T-Shirt says Amsterdam.

As if it was not enough to take pics in the lovely Pagoda...  

We closed the “jalan-jalan” (sightseeing) by shopping for “oleh-oleh” (gift) and we meant to buy some snacks from the local supermarket at Parksons in Hung Vuong Plaza.  Vietnamese coffee is a must for oleh-oleh, snacks i.e. sweet peanut candy, etc.

What about the good luck myth?  If I did a flashback of what happened that day, good luck of bad luck, who would know?
  • I lost my blackberry.
  • I got a new sim card within only a few hours and I could still use my old blackberry. 
  • We had a good lunch.
  • We were lucky to meet a good English speaking taxi driver.
  • We took good pics at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and we found another lovely Pagoda unexpectedly. 
  • One of my girlfriends got a phone call from a special person. 
  • When we got together before leaving to dinner place, coincidentally my friends met with Bobby Chinn and they even took pics together.   
  • We were excited and had fun dinner at The Deck, by the Saigon River. Even though it was a bit rainy and we could not sit outside, we still enjoyed the togetherness, ambiance, food and drink... A good way to end the day...
Fresh seafood, tasty risotto, good fish & yummy dessert

It was beyond expectation, and I appreciated every little thing happened that day.  Thank you for the day.

Three Musketeers i.e. Charlie's Angels

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