We the headed towards the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is said to have been built under the order of the first of the Nguyen Lords, Nguyen Hoang.
According to a legend an old lady sat on the site, where the pagoda complex now stands, foretold that one of the lords would come and erect a pagoda on the hill to pray for the country's prosperity, which is literally what happened. In 1714 it was subject to major expansion works and the complex now comprises a seven-storey high octogonal tower, a pavilion housing a bronze bell, another one a stone stele and a shrine, not to mention the monks' quarters and gardens.
As Kien was providing us with information regarding the guardian statues a young adolescent sitting close bu started talking, or better said, trying to talk to me. Upon having given him a Portuguese souvenir he made me a flower necklace souvenir, which for fear of getting loose I immediately photographed.
In the Summer of 1963, similarly to what happened in several other pagodas Thien Mu Pagoda became the hotbed for anti-Government protests.
A series of self -imolations took place as self-immolation by members of the Buddhist clergy became a "weapon" against the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, which ultimately brought the plight of the Buddhists to the attention of the International Community.
As we were visiting the Pagoda complex we sighted some adolescent monks sitting at a table studying. So as not to disturb them by photographing them I took a picture of their timetable obligations instead.
After having visited the whole complex and strolled around calmly we headed back down the hill so as to catch a dragon like shaped boat.
I don't remember much related to the boat ride because as we left the Thien Mu Pagoda it was raining fairly hard and it kept on raining all the way throughout the river boat tour barely allowing us to open the windows to thoroughly admire the landscape. I made a small friend whom I gave a few bracelets to and whose mother, the boat owner, sold us a few souvenirs on board. I therefore remember them both much better than anything I might have sighted under the rain drops.
As we left the boat it was still raining though not so hard as before but prior to driving back to the hotel to change and get ready for the evening gathering with Kien we stopped by the photographer who had fixed my camera by substituting a worn out piece. I felt the first photo should be his because he had "made" my following days.
We had been gathering at the hall of the hotel since the previous evening drinking and eating some of the delicacies Kien had kindly brought for us and tonight was no exception. We would no longer be with him as from the following day onwards, once we would fly to Hanoi and get a local guide instead.
Kien had been someone we had grown attached to, despite the fact that we had just spent three days with him. We all felt sorry not to be able to continue our Vienamese "discovery" with him as a guide, with due respect for the previous guide and the next guide to be. His availability, kindness, friendliness, professionalism ... etc. (you name it) ... would be something we would certainly remember ... but above all we would all be carrying his contagious smile embedded in us.
We had an Imperial-like dinner which was supposed to have been accompanied by music had we been a bigger group but despite the musical absence we had a great time.
As I got back to the hotel room I photographed some of the ink paintings I had bought on the boat and the necklaces with the Chinese astrological signs I had previously bought in Hoi Han. We would be leaving the hotel and Hue all together the following day and I felt kind of sad ...