Monday, September 13, 2010

The X-Tour: South Vietnam ‘2010

This time, the X-Tour came as a complete surprise to us! We just came back from our Taiwan tour in Jun 2010, and the next X-Tour should only happen in Dec based on our past practice. However, we were expecting some changes in Dec this time which might change our routine plan to travel out of Singapore during this period. So, we had decided to skip the next X-Tour in Dec this year.

Dharma Sister Mei just came back from her company trip to Pangkor Island in Malaysia in Aug. She kept telling me how serene the place was and it would be very suitable for us to take a good rest there for a few days. So, I told her to plan for a short trip in Sep during the school holiday. When her plan was out, there were few who enrolled for the trip. So, she suggested that it be cancelled. At that juncture, a vision of Ho Chih Min suddenly appeared in my mind. So, I made a very casual remark, “Why not we go to South Vietnam instead?” 2 years ago, we went to North and Central Vietnam, after which we published a book entitled “The X-Tour: Vietnam”. We did not cover South Vietnam in our last trip. So, if we could now publish another book on South Vietnam, it would be just perfect!

Within a very short period of 2 weeks of preparations, 8 of us made our way to Ho Chih Min City (HCM City), in a hurry.

When our plane reached the sky above HCM City, it was 2 Sep 2010. At that juncture, Dharma Brother Shao ‘saw’ Uncle Ho appearing in space to welcome our arrival.
When we stepped out of the airport, a young tour guide, Chu Chu, came to receive us. Outside the airport, the streets were fully decorated with banners bearing the picture of Ho Chih Min and the date “2 Sep”. Suddenly, we realized that it could well be a very important day in Vietnam. Our tour guide told us that it was a public holiday in Vietnam, one that celebrates the birthday of Ho Chih Min. We just smiled to one another, with a silent exchange of acknowledgements - “How on earth could it be so coincidental!” At a later stage, the tour guide told us that 2 Sep is also The 1st Independence Day of Vietnam. Now, that was a little confusing to us. Regardless, 2 Sep must be a very important day to both Vietnam and Ho Chih Min for sure. It was very coincidental that we arrived in HCM City on 2 Sep. The area outside our hotel, Rex Hotel, was fully decorated for celebration, with fireworks being displayed at night. We understood that this was yet another silent arrangement made by the spiritual world.

On the first and second day, we visited HCM City and Mekong Delta. It was a very relaxing trip visiting the 3 islets in Mekong Delta, including a horse cart ride.
On the third day, we travelled to the famous Cu Chi Tunnel. It was simply awesome! The fighting spirit of the Vietnamese Communist soldiers was just amazing, no wonder they won the war finally. Later, we proceeded to Vung Tau, a famous beach resort situated 125KM away from HCM City. I got an SMS at night during our prayer, informing me about a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hitting Christchurch in New Zealand on the same day. We dedicated the merits of our prayer to this shocking disaster.

On the fourth day, we walked up a hill in a cooling breeze. A gigantic Jesus Monument stood right on top of the hill, overlooking the sea below. It was believed to be the biggest outdoor Jesus Monument in the world. And there were tens of thousands of dragonflies flying all over the hill, with the largest congregation seen right in front of the Jesus Monument. In my vision, they were no ordinary dragonflies but tens of thousands of angels who came forward to welcome the arrival of a group of Vajrayana practitioners! After paying our respects to the Jesus Monument, we slowly walked down the hill. Suddenly, I felt the presence of both Mother Mary and Jesus. Both of them expressed their gratitude to me for visiting and blessing Christchurch 2 years ago. The Prime Minister of New Zealand commented that it was truly a miracle that Christchurch survived a 7.2 magnitude earthquake without any loss of human life! But to me, it was just the great blessing of The White Parasol!

We visited a Whale Temple, but Chu Chu said it was an “Elephant Fish” Temple. Actually, “elephant fish” is synonymous to “whale”. This temple was likened to Ma Zu Temple to the Chinese people. The local fishermen would pray at this temple before leaving for sea every morning. They prayed for the protection of the “whale” for a safe return.

During this trip, I realized the stark difference between Hanoi and HCM City. The former was old and backward, whereas the latter was modern and bold. HCM City was full of modern buildings, with very few traditional long and narrow buildings left.
Our young tour guide, Chu Chu, was only 25 years old. When he knew that I was the author of the book entitled “X-Tour: Vietnam”, he started calling me “dad”. And I called him “Chu Chu, my son.” He is “Prince Chu Chu”, and I am “Acho Rinpoche”. There must be a very special connection between the two of us in the past, ha ha! Prince Chu Chu was no ordinary tour guide. He was the body builder champion of Vietnam in 2010. He showed us his championship photo on his hand phone and an article featuring him in a local women’s magazine as the body builder champion of the 75kg category.

We visited a few art galleries and noted some scenic paintings showing a place full of wild flowers which was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Initially, I thought that the artists must have visited either Switzerland or New Zealand in winters. There was a time when our car was making a turn at a street and again, I saw posters showing the same place surrounded by snow-capped mountains and wild flowers. When I asked Chu Chu where the place was, he told me that it was his hometown - Dalat! It was near to another famous beach resort, Nha Trang. So, we planned our next trip to Vietnam with Prince Chu Chu, to visit Dalat and Nah Trang. That should wrap up the final chapter of our Vietnam Tour. Well, will this plan be realized? We will just leave it to the Dharma Protectors and the inconceivable spiritual affinity to decide on the next trip. We will just continue to walk our journey step by step…

Lotus Robe (Acho Rinpoche)
7 Sep 2010

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