Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monastery Gardens - Quy Nhon - Chua Hien Nam

Chua Hien Nam is a 300 year-old temple in Quy Nhon City, Binh Dinh province.
Like many temples in Vietnam, it is hemmed in all around by houses and shops, so the only way to reach the temple is by going down an alley. This has happened because over the years the temple has subdivided and sold off its lands, leaving itself stranded in the middle of urban density.
The grounds are still reasonably spacious, and the forecourt garden contains a large shrine to Kwan Yin.

This outdoor shrine is above a water garden, growing some rather fine lotuses.

The area is paved so that it can be used as an extension of worship or other congregational space. It is used all day by people from the surrounding neighbourhood - in this case to release a cage full of birds as an act of good karma.

Looking out from the Abbott's room you can see his prize collection of bonsai in pots. The cultivation of bonsai - along with the cultivation of orchids - is seen as a monkish pasttime in Vietnam.

And though they provide an interesting focal point in front of the main prayer hall, they hardly provide any shade, which is much needed in Quy Nhon's hot climate.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monastery Gardens - Hue - Tinh Xa Ngoc Huong

Here are some views of the monastery gardens at Tinh Xa Ngoc Huong on Le Van Huu street in the old part of Hue.

The monastery is rather idylically located on one of the old imperial islands, and I believe that it was once the site of the Empress' library.

The Tinh Xa is a temple of the Tang Gia Khat Si, the indigenous order of Vietnamese Buddhism. It is quite small and run-down, and only houses a handful of monks.

On the next street up is another Tinh Xa belonging to the nun's order, and this is much larger, more modern and well-kept.
But I love the down-at-heel charm of Tinh Xa Ngoc Huong, which is frequently closed, and can only be accessed via a long and somewhat perilous concrete footbridge.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sakyamuni Buddha

Sakyamuni (Thich Ca Mau Ni Phat vn.) is the historical Buddha, and the central figure of worship that unites all of the schools and sects of Buddhism.

All agree on his life and teaching, though there are some minor disagreements on points of his teaching (did he advocate vegetarianism or not?) and his biography (when exactly did he live and die?).

Sakyamuni is normally the central image in the main prayer halls in Vietnamese temples - on very rare occasions the central image might be of Amitabha, and even more rarely Vairocana.

But almost all Buddhist temples in Vietnam feature a statue of Sakyamuni as their main object of worship.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Destination Saigon at Cabramatta Library

The really lovely people at the Whitlam Library in Cabramatta are holding a very special meet-the-author evening on Wednesday night the 9th of June at 6.30pm.
I will be talking about Vietnam, writing, and some of the special and funny stories that form the backbone of "Destination Saigon."
I am so privileged to be speaking at my own local library, so please come along if you can to hear an author on his home turf.


Whitlam Library
Wednesday, 9th June, 6.30pm
9725 0360 to RSVP

Everyone is welcome to this free event.

Thank you to Anne and Andrew at the library for their wonderful support, the posters look fantastic!!