Bich Dong Pagoda & Temple

This afternoon I donned my Vietnamese hat and mounted my faithful steed to head off to Bich Dong Pagoda, just under 9km away. Eeee I could feel my calve muscles after yesterday’s exertions with all those stone steps! Also, sitting again on a bike made ultimately for someone of smaller stature. The seat was pretty much the right height for me actually, as I could only just touch the ground with the tips of my toes, but the pedals were too high up, so I ended up feeling like my legs were folded up awkwardly. Anyway, the bike still went at quite a lick… I managed to overtake quite a few people – I wanted the breeze of a quicker pace, which I managed just fine.

The hat really was almost levitating off my head as I whizzed along, only held on by the ribbon under my chin. Otherwise it wasn’t barely ever touching my head!

I had to stop and get off as a parade came by – maybe a funeral I think, though I didn’t find out what it was about. An entire village looked like they’d come out for it though, and were parading a couple of mini Pagoda type things on biers through the street while everyone else very smartly dressed followed on. Little piles of burning incense sticks marked the path. A man was playing what looked and sounded like a traditional type of oboe, and lots of cymbals were being clashed repeatedly at the front of the parade. I didn’t want to be disrespectful, but managed to get a tiny bit of footage:

The Pagoda and temple are kind of built on several levels inside a mountain and in a grotto/cave:

This chapel looked more like a Buddhist one than the usual to the kings/political leaders sort of thing, perhaps?

Then, horror… more steps! This time inside the grotto/cave. Was this fixation with steps upwards in a mountainside a metaphor for reaching enlightenment or heaven or something, I wonder?

An ancient bell and a half!

Huge stalactites

I loved the way the light fell on the figures in this temple area:

Yep, more steps. Some nearly as deep as my knee!

I’ve no idea what this big stone is. It looked like a gravestone, but was inside the second level part of the temple. On closer inspection it looks a bit like someone was practising writing characters over and again on it maybe?

I stopped and had an ice cream when I reached the exit, and the lady who sold me it pulled up a chair for me to enjoy contemplating the view while eating it. I asked her how to say “thank you” – shame on me it took me this long. It’s “cam on”, apparently.

Then it was back on the faithful steed all the way home in time to have a shower and cook dinner. I passed some beautiful beginnings of the sunset type views on the way, looking over rice paddies to the distinctively shaped limestone mountains that are so prevalent here.

I passed what might be a graveyard?

Another great day in wonderland!

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