Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monastery Gardens - Thu Duc - Phap Vien Minh Dang Quang

One of my favourite monasteries - and one which is almost completely unknown - is Phap Vien Minh Dang Quang on Hanoi Road in Thu Duc.
It's quite difficult to find because over the years the monastery has sold off its land that faces the road and is now obscured behind a range of genuinely hideous factories and light-industry. Once you enter the monastery gates, however, you are instantly in another world - a world of almost complete quiet, with monks dotted about the park-like gardens in individual huts, dressed in the bright-yellow robes of the Khat Si, Vietnam's indigenous Buddhist order.
There's nothing fancy about the place - the main hall is little more than a rickety tin shed on stilts that actually shakes when I walk about in it.

But it's a semi-rural monastery in the oldest style, the way I imagine many places would have been in a quieter, less overpopulated Vietnam.
These days the gardens are populated with some massive statuary.

There is also a large and surprisingly beautiful statue of the Order's founder, Minh Dang Quang.

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