As many of you know I like to travel, and since moving to China back in 2013 I've managed to see many places in and around Asia. However wherever I go, I always keep a written journal and I've decided its long past time I shared some of these stories with you all.
So in no particular order, every month I will pick a random country and share with you one the strange days I had exploring it.
This month I chose Vietnam, for no other reason that this was where I was this time last year. Isn't that crazy?
Sunday, 5th April 2015 - Vigil in Vietnam
Dressed in heels and a skirt too short to be considered proper, I was horrified to discover that my boyfriends suggestion of a “romantic midnight walk” was actually an evil ploy to get me to a graveyard. But Hang Duong Graveyard in Vietnam is not your typical haunt for ghosts and ghouls.
Mollified by the females pilgrims in their shorter skirts and even higher heels, I reluctantly joined in the masses that flooded in from all across Vietnam to make this midnight vigil. Paying homage to Vo Thi Sau—a nineteen year old girl who became a martyr after her execution during the Vietnamese war—I joined the line to go pray before her shrine.
Fires burned to either side of her grave and people lined up with offerings of all shapes and sizes. Everything from flowers, fruits, chickens and chocolate cakes, to what looked like a three-piece-suit, were all laid atop Vo Thi Sau’s place of rest. These offerings were later taken one by one to the fire where they were burnt. I was particularly saddened to see the chocolate cakes go up in flames. However I had no time to mourn there loss, for suddenly I was before the shrine.
Handed a huge pile of incense, I obediently lit the bundle and immediately lost about half the incense trying to wave out flames. Unsure what to do next, I quietly asked a teen girl beside me what I was supposed to pray for.
“Anything,” she said, “Although most pray to see Vo Thi Sau’s spirit, or to have her visit your dreams in the night. To have her appear will bring you good fortune.”
Ever the tactful one, I replied, “You want me to pray for a dead girl to visit me in the night?” Thankfully she didn't seem to understand my sarcasm and only nodded her enthusiasm.
Closing my eyes, I prayed instead for Vo Thi Sau to find peace and happiness in the afterlife. Feeling foolish, I also added that if she did feel the need for living company, to check out six senses spa resort, who’s guests I’m sure would be happy to see her. I didn't mention I would be sleeping on the other side of island.
Heading home, my boyfriend and I meandered through the many graves, each honoured with a single candle and sticks of smouldering incense that lit the night like fire flies. Awed by the eery beauty of it, I grudgingly admitted to my boyfriend that the grave site was indeed a place worth seeing.
That was the moment I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning, my eyes were forced closed against the sudden gust of wind, and when I could see again, a chocolate cake wrapper lay at my feet. My boyfriend and I laughed, but I walked a little faster and made my boyfriend drive our motorbike the scenic route home, just in case Vo Thi Sau was following.