Having flown to Paris the night before I headed to the agency meeting point early in the morning so as to obtain the necessary documentation to fly to Ho Chi Minh via Hanoi where we arrived in the first hours of the following morning.
I normally meet my traveling companions at the final destination but I was fortunate enough to have sat next to a mother and daughter on the flight to Hanoi, who were doing the same circuit having soon after met the other travelling companions on the way from the Hanoi international terminal to the domestic one.
Being a small group of nine would certainly be advantageous, so we believed and in no time we were being driven through the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh heading to the Hotel Senviet where we would be lodged for the next two days whilst we explored the city.
The huge images of Ho Chi Minh watched us from almost every corner and because of it being his anniversary many more posters and placards mus have been spread around the city, which seemed rather chaotic for a westerner at least in regards to the motorcycle traffic. The atmoshere was heavy and despite not knowing exactly what the humidity percentage was I calculated it must be higher than 80, which proved to be right.
Lunch allowed us to have a relaxing moment and a first approach to the Vietnames cuisine which I fell for almost immediately.
After lunch we were allowed a few minutes in our new lodgements before meeting the guide, Giao back on the Hotel entrance hall. I still managed to have a quick shower and take a few photos to and from my fourth floor bedroom.
Our first visit would be the Vinh Ngihem pagoda, which is said to have been completed in 1971 with the aid of the Japan-Vietnal Association. The courtyard garden like was quite impressive and so were some of the Buddhas once we flanked the lacquerware doors that gave access to the sanctuary, where one particular worshipper caught my attention.
We were given a brief introduction regarding the three most prominent strands in Vietnam's religious tradition - Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, associated with the indigenous customs of spirit worship, ancestor veneration and the deification of Vietnam's patriotic heroes.
Solemn room filled with photographs and memorials to the departed.
I felt the need to walk around in order to get into the mystic like atmosphere similarly to what I had done in Myanmar the year before and the truth is there is a certain calmness in just letting it take over you.