Buddhist Monks and Fish Gods

Today was a brand new day indeed! We went on our first site visit today with one of the lovely ladies from the Hospitality school. Our Vũng Tàu City tour included a private car ride through the city streets with three locations, religious and historical sites in the city.

We started off with a short tour of The White Palace Villa (Bạch Dinh) and the extended grounds which looked more like a lush green jungle. The Villa, built in 1898, was used by royals and later as a jail for enemies on house arrest.

The second stop was a Theravada Buddhist Monk temple (Thích Ca Phật Đài) that opened in 1963. There were stairs intertwined in the same type of jungle area mentioned above. It was really intriguing because this was in the middle of Vũng Tàu City. This temple area was my favorite because it had a calming vibe and the smells were soothing. Incense floated through the heat-filled air and the lush greenery hugged the area, creating a barrier between the bustling city and the calm life in the shrines. People were sleeping and praying and there were some women selling novelties out of stalls.

The last stop we came to was the Whale Temple (Đình Thần Thắng Tam), a place of worship for the fishing industry in Vũng Tàu, built in the late 19th century. Inside the temple there were many different rooms with many alters and alter decor. We had to take off our shoes in this location out of respect for the shrines. In one of the rooms in the middle of the area, there was housed a giant wooden whale that contained the actual skeleton of a giant whale that washed ashore many years ago.

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