Embrace Foundation
Traveling in Viet Nam - 2017


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religions, cultures, traditions and  
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VIET NAM


Religion in Viet Nam

Viet Nam is primarily a Buddhist, Taoist/ Traditional Vietnamese/ Chinese and a Catholic country.

Building Interfaith Understanding in Mid-Interior Viet Nam

A Canadian expat, married to  a Vietnamese citizen (of both Vietnamese and Chinese heritage) was  
most enthused about Embrace when he heard about it.  Being from Montreal, he grew up a  
Catholic, but his wife is a Buddhist. He told the Embrace Founders that his wife, a successful  
business woman, contributes philanthropically to both poor Catholics and to Buddhists throughout  
the year.  Early on, she made a point of meeting the local priest who for some years has given her  
the names of poor people in his parish who need help. (This woman is a very special human being.)

Ajata and Virginia were quite surprised to find out that they had secured their hotel in the “Catholic”  
part of the town, (For Virginia this was sort of like the old days of spending Christmas in Belfast)  
while our Canadian Catholic friend apparently kept residence in the Buddhist part of town.

It was while the Founders were out for a stroll, that two men enthusiastically hailed them and asked  
whether they actually did interfaith work?  The Founders gave the men Embrace business cards  
with the understanding that if they wanted to contact Embrace for any interfaith reason and it could  
be of help to please do so. We mention this incident because people in some parts of Viet Nam feel  
a need to forge positive relations.

At Buddhist monasteries there was a keen interest in developing interfaith dialogue. Young  
Buddhists however, have a great interest in the world outside Viet Nam and so, it seems they would  
be especially interested in meeting people from all sorts of philosophical and religious backgrounds.

Temples:
About Taking Photos During Prayers

Throughout Viet Nam (in publicized, old, traditional temples (as well as in Java, Indonesia and in  
Kowloon and Hong Kong) tourists come to take photographs in unending droves.  If the Founders  
were not attempting to record these places for educational and registry purposes they would much  
prefer to spend quiet time with the people who come to pray, light incense and meditate, although  
they do that too.

As a visitor, If possible, try to finish your photographing quickly and stay out of he way of people  
praying and meditating. In places such as the traditional temples in the Old City of Hoi An, it is  
nearly impossible for the locals to conduct their prayers without being buffeted by hundreds of  
tourists and the same problem exists for some of the traditional Chinese and Vietnamese temples in  
Hanoi. Of course, quite a lot of tourists in Hoi An are from mainland China and they are particularly  
eager to see the clan houses enclosing temples from their part of China.

We strongly urge that, if you can, take photos outside and visit (gently and quietly) inside without  
photographing. You will enjoy it a lot more and possibly learn a little about the traditions. You can  
always download photos from EmbraceSacredPlaces.Org if you want to have a record of the  
temples. It should be noted that many Vietnamese and Chinese temples have elders who sit at the  
doorways both at the entrances and elsewhere. Some of them are quite eager to show visitors  
around and if you are not taking photos, you will have the chance to avail yourself of their wisdom.   
Often the elders who are long time congregation members know special places in a temple that  
many visitors never see.  Be certain to make a contribution to the temple or if they will accept  
money, you can give the person guiding you something. For the elders it is not about money but  
about pride in their temple, a place where they may spend much of their day.

Also, it is getting to the point that the government/ temple committees needs to regulate the hours  
for photos at many of the tourist temples.  And they need to set aside times when people can visit  
and times which are strictly for those who wish to worship.

As a Westerner, imagine how you would feel at a Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th  
Avenue, New York while hundreds of tourists were allowed to stream up the aisles, sit next to you in  
a pew while you’re listening to the priest. squat down in front of the alter and photograph the  
celebration of the mass. Perhaps they might even try to bypass the priest and go to the alter to take  
a closeup of the crucifix. If you live in Europe, imagine tourists flooding into any number of the great  
and famous cathedrals while you are praying, there is a mass going on or even while you are giving  
confession.

Most Mosques have regulated times for visitors based on the times of salat, churches are strict  
about Sundays, (and even during the week, the cathedral in Ho Chi Min City is tough to get into for  
visiting busloads of Catholics from Europe) but the Chinese and traditional Vietnamese are very  
tolerant. They don’t seem to have any time for themselves. Don’t take advantage of them.

Vietnamese Designers

Since many non-Western nations have very beautiful and elegant clothing, we always hope that  
these nations will not succumb to the fairly unattractive and generally unflattering designs of the  
West. (Designs that do not lend themselves to either gaining or losing weight or aging.) It is with  
some optimism that we noted that many Vietnamese designers are creating elegant designs based  
on their traditional heritage for their own people. 

Laying Down Buses!

Viet Nam has buses going between cities that do not seat the traveler, but ask you to remove your  
shoes on entering the bus and have you lay down prone in your designated (seat-bed). If you do not  
specify a seated bus, you could end up traveling throughout the day laying down. Generally, no one  
will tell you the type of bus unless you ask.

How to Get Out of Nha Trang (if you aren’t flying)

The bus situation between Nha Trang and coastal areas is confused.  If you are on your way to Hoi  
An or Danang take a train. It is comfortable, on time and efficient. It also arrives in Danang at a  
reasonable hour.
Ta La Phat Da Thanh, Nha Trang
Ta La Phat Da Thanh, Nha Trang
Hoi An Old Town - Viet Nam
Lantern Store - Hoi An, VIet Nam
Ajata Takes Almost All of the People Photos, but He Was Caught Himself
Vietnmese Traditional Design but Vietnamese Designers Create Beautiful Cothes Based on Vietnamese Culture
Entrance to the Confucian Temple in Hanoi, Viet Nam
Scholars in the Kong Fuzi  (ie: Kongzi, Confucious) in Learning Temple - Hanoi, Viet Nam
Kong Fuzi  (ie: Kongzi, Confucious) in Learning Temple - Hanoi, Viet Nam
Hoe Nhai Pagoda   Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Viet Nam - Hanoi, Viet Nam
One of the Many Beautiful  Stain Glass Widows at St. Joseph's Cathedral
Children Playing on Cathedral Front Steps in Hanoi, VIet Nam
Giac Lam Pagoda (Temple) 1744 - Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
The Yin Yang Inside the 6 Hexegrams of the I Ching or Book of Changes - Heaven is Above - Earth Below
Ngoc Son Temple - Temple of Jade Mountain -on Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Viet Nam (19th Cen)
Ngoc Son Temple - Temple of Jade Mountain -on Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Viet Nam (19th Cen)
A Shop in Beautiful Book Alley in Ho Chi Min CIty - VIet Nam
Chua Phuoc Hue Temple & Monastery - Bao Loc, Viet Nam
Chua Phuoc Hue Temple & Monastery - Bao Loc, Viet Nam
Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City
Chua Phuoc Hue Temple & Monastery - Bao Loc, Viet Nam
Po Nagar Cham Towers, Nha Trang
Po Nagar Cham Towers, Nha Trang
Chua Long Tho Buddhist Nunnery, Hoi An
Chua Khanh-Van-Nam-Vien Temple, Ho Chi Minh City
Viet Namese Mona Lisa

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