Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In the Sketchbook: Rural Vietnam

"Rice Harvest in the Mekong Delta Region"
"Cao Dai Temple"
We traveled by buses, boats, and planes.  As we traveled out of Ho Chi Minh City, we saw this amazing scene of rural produce being delivered to the city. This was, of course, a common sight.
Rural produce heads to market
The bus trips gave us opportunities to view the more rural areas of the countries. On our travels to the Mekong Delta, we saw the great rice fields where the country people tended their harvest. This is extremely hard work, as the person is standing or squatting in water. Mostly this is considered women's work, but I saw quite a few men working as well. The scene is colorful, because the Vietnamese wear their conical hats, a wonderful invention to protect from sun while allowing air circulation. The hats were not prevalent in the other countries we visited.
The spiritual life is ever present. We stopped at a Cao Dai temple, which later I realized was a very different temple after seeing many traditional Buddhist and Hindu places of worship. The religion is unique and colorful, founded in the 1920s. It combines secular and religious philosophies, and is  based on séance messages revealed to its founder, Ngo Minh Chien. Because the Vietnamese people revere their ancestors, the religion makes sense to me. What struck me was the lavish use of neon in this temple, something you did not see at the many other temples we visited. I chose to paint a part of the façade.

Another sight, especially prevalent in Southern Vietnam, is the burial of family members in the back yard or the rice paddies in raised graves. This photo was taken from the bus, hence the poor quality. This is very interesting to a Westerner used to formal cemeteries. Their veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the dead have a continued existence and can influence the fortune of the living. It is important to respect and look after ancestors in their afterlives, and they often seek their guidance.  The family prefers to remain on the land to care for their dead. I reminded myself that we also honor our dead, though in different way.

Family ancestors buried in the Mekong rice fields.
There was so much gorgeous scenery to see. We traveled by bus from Hoi An to Hue. When the air conditioning quit in almost 100 degree heat and high humidity, we got to relax on a restaurant patio at China Beach while repairs were made.


 Heading out of Danang, we climbed the mountains and were treated to this view.




martinealison said...

Bonjour ma chère amie,
Un grand merci pour cette belle évasion. Un pays que je ne connais pas encore mais une destination que je voudrais un jour aller.
Vos photos sont engageantes et vous parlez si bien de ce qui vous a touchée et interpellée.
J'ai vécu 2 mois à l'île Maurice cet hiver et je retrouve certaines similitudes sur la manière qu'a la population de vivre.
Un très joli reportage.
Gros bisous à vous

CrimsonLeaves said...

I just love your colorful sketches, Mary. What an interesting trip you are having. I'm amazed to be seeing places our service men and women were working during the Vietnam War. So very touching and such a peaceful image compared to what they experienced then.

Mary said...

Wow, Mary--what an incredible journey you two had! I have spent quite awhile reading all your trip related posts and enjoying your delightful photos and charming sketches. Thank you for spending the time to write these fascinating entries.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary,

I enjoy your travel adventures and the interesting stories you tell. Viet Nam and its cultures sound fascinating. I like the mixture of sketches and photos. Wonderful!

hw (hallie) farber said...

I am enjoying your trip--love the sketches.