27 February 2011


TET 2011, Ly Thu Trong

It's late, 10pm, an old woman sits on the footpath, next to a tree.
She is holding a sleeping eight year old boy across her lap.
Something is wrong.
I take another look, tears are rolling down her face.
She is dressed in simple clothes, old and nothing fancy.
She is crying openly, does not care who sees.
There are no people passing only cars and motorbikes with bright glaring lights.
I stop, embarrassed.
What to do ?
I give her some money.
She hardly notices, but then  takes it.
It makes no difference to her, but I don't know what else to do.

Ten minutes later I walk past her again, on the way to La Fenetre Soleil. She is still there, crying. 
I stop, put my hand on her shoulder, say a few words.  Move on.
Later I wonder, what else I could have done ?
"You could have sat beside her, held put a hand on her shoulder and just been there. Who cares about language at a time like that ?"
But I was too inhibited for that... money is all I could think of.... until after she was gone ....
Was the boy alright, he looked like he was sleeping, but maybe he was sick ?
I wasn't fast enough on my feet.
hm........next time my friend, remember, let your heart speak....

 9Feb11 Ly Tu Trong street, Saigon, D1,


the humanness of Vietnam: Thumbs up + smile :-)

Saigon 2011 January, typical traffic
Riding in traffic, swimming in a sea of motorbikes, surrounded by motorbikes, 
I'm one of them, one of hundreds, inching forward, grabbing that bit of space, 
chugging along, impassive face, aware all around. .
A tall young woman, sitting high up at the back of a bike, passes me and turns around, bright smile on her face. She gives me a big thumbs up sign, me the foreigner on his on his 50cc Honda Cub bike. 
I feel accepted. 
I feel part of the place. 
For a moment I see life from the vantage of the majority of Vietnamese in Saigon. 
 10Feb11 Saigon, Le Loi Street D1.

I'm wanted at the traffic-jam
They're saving me a seat
I'm what I am, and what I am
Is back on Boogie Street...
- Leonard Cohen  

26 February 2011

Shoes n Spirit House - was someone listening ?

Hotel lobby with spirit house on the right - shoes were on the right not far from it - Feb2011
At the hotel where I stay the lady who runs it has a small spirit house, altar, by the reception desk at floor level.
 not far away from  it they put all the shoes for the guests in row by the wall on the floor.
It's been like this for years.
Ever since I arrived I thought it was not a good thing to have the shoes near the altar of the spirit house, (its an Asian thing, but shoes and feet and spiritual stuff don't mix well in Asia)

I always kind of appologized to the spirit house, kept my shoes far away and was  respectful.

Today I returned from my morning errands and the shoes were gone, all of them.

the manager lady has moved them all by the door, on the opposite wall, closer to the door and far away from spirit house.

She speaks no English, I speak no Vietnamese.

I never said anything about the shoes and spirit house.
After she moved them I did the thumbs up and we communicated in sign language. It was clear she had moved them to show respect to the spirit house.

I sometimes get these kinds of things where i think of something, wonder about it should be done better, or differently and then suddenly it happens.

I guess I'm picking up on the things about to change, tuning into it or whatever. 

'dance me to the children who are asking to be born....'  - Leonard Cohen 

Sometimes the threads on the loom suggest the picture to come.
Then we know that our children-to-be Hope for us in the Bardo.
For them we weave until our arms grow tired.
-- The years of Rice and Salt - by Kim Stanley Robinson
Surgery under local anaesthetic  in Burma by the mobile Surgeon Dr Naga

25 February 2011

the value of first aid - VS feeling useless

Saigon going from  D7 to D1:
25Feb11 driving home today man on bridge, lying in heat, blood down his face, big bump on back of head. 
I stop to feel his pulse. 
normal, strong, about 60/min. 
no one knows what to do, they all wait for the ambulance. 
they mark the road with the outline of the bike, 
they leave him in the heat. 

do I move him, ? 
do I put his feet higher than his head ? no he has head injury, 
I have no idea,  I do nothing. 

I feel useless I leave. 

later I remember: unconscious people can feel and hear soothing kind presence, even if I can DO nothing I could be there and just hold his  arm. Provide shade. Check his breathing...
I hope there is no next time... but if so.... then next time

16 February 2011

Unique temple in Saigon

Unique temple in saigon

Half the face is just iron mesh, the other half has concrete and looks like a Buddha.
It's the face that towers over the low restaurants at the intersection.
Every morning I've seen it.
Every morning I mean to go and check it out.

Today I did (15Feb11).

It's hot, the atmosphere is surreal, the temple looks like a home made structure, by someone with talent and ideas.

it all sits on a convoluted concrete structure

a face sits in the garden.....

a cave houses a monk....

if you look closely at the main temple, you can find all sorts of surprises high up....

I circled around all the way to the street view....

and found an assembly of deities inside.....

Tea and conversation with the priest....

and a tour of the temple inside

an ancient energy has sought refuge here.... outside high rise buildings go up, building is furious and unrelenting... where did this place come from ?

The garden holds more surprises

playfulness done very well, this is a temple unique and special that expresses it's creator's character.

A crowd watches you - as you watch them.

and it's all hidden, in plain view,

along an ordinary looking road and near a small turn off...

if you feel hungry, these guys make a great Phoe soup

The temple reminds me of Thailand, the Isaarn area, of the North East, same imagination, same free form, same ancient feel to it.

Lovely surprise, just a short walk from my corporate air-conditioned networked office.
Where is it ? On a very busy road going district 7

Aswan, Egypt, Tombs of the Nobles