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Monday, December 12, 2011
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda is one of the Chinese clan temples (belonging to the Fujianese) in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. District 5 is the old Cholon, once one of the most tremendous Chinese cities in the world - to read about it in its heyday you can't do better than Gontran de Poncins' wonderful book From A Chinese City. If you are lucky enough to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, you should really put aside a morning or afternoon to visit the colourful temples of Cholon.
The Phuoc An Hoi Quan is just two minutes walk from the Quan Am pagoda (that's not counting the ten minutes you will spend drumming up the courage to cross the truly terrifying Hung Vuong Rd.), so you should really plan to do both at once. Both temples are shown on maps in any of the guide books to Ho Chi Minh City.
There are reasonably concealed benches in the temple courtyard so it makes a nice place to sit and people watch without being hassled. Bring a fan.
The statue of Kwan Yin to the left of the courtyard as you enter is a very popular and lucky statue in this part of town.
And interestingly the robes for Kwan Yin that are donated by people who have had their prayers answered are embroidered with the names of the donors or the people they want blessed.
This is the first time I have seen this. I wonder if it's new or old?
There is also a lucky horse to your left as you enter the temple - it is meant to be lucky for travellers to stroke its mane.
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda is at 184 D. Hung Vuong, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.
It is meant to stay open till 6pm, but they normally won't let you in after 5.30.
It's a 10-15 minute taxi ride from downtown Saigon.
Photography is allowed, and you don't have to take your shoes off to enter this temple.
You can purchase incense and offerings inside the temple, where you will be charged the true local price.