Sunday 8th July

After an early morning start at Huong Phuong, we caught a bus and headed for the city of Vinh.

It is city of the same name of the Diocese from which 4 Vietnamese priests have come and have been ordained in and for Christchurch.  Several other candidates for the priesthood are also from the Diocese of Vinh, and on Monday, I am due to have lunch with the family of one of them.   I expected to see many signs of Catholicism….. and I was not disappointed.  Yellow and white flags were obvious in many places (to indicate a Catholic homes or establishments).  The flags looked like the Vatican’s minus the symbol of the keys.  Sometimes a red cross is in the middle.

Outside the city, the skyline is pierced by many many Churches, all in European Gothic style.  That was a disappointment to me.  I was hoping to see a more “Vietnamese Style” buildings for Churches – whatever that means!!  The thing is, everything about the church here is ‘growth’!  Many new churches are being built and in every Village, the Church as a building is ‘in you face’!  You can’t miss it (them!).

The bus driver ‘cheated’ us: he dropped us off somewhere in the old bus station instead of the new one, which would have been about 5km closer to our destination.  We were to be guests in the seminary of the Diocese of Vinh, some 10 or more km away from where we were dropped off.   Disembarking from the bus at 11.30ish came with its challenge.  It was probably the hottest part of the day, and we were lost as to where to look for a taxi.  In the heat, someone gestured us a ride on his bike/scooter, which of course would have been awkward because there were two of us, and we have a large luggage and a backpack each!.   As we walked in the heat getting fried trying to look for a taxi, this enterprising man led a taxi to us!!!  When we got in, and I noticed the driver giving him a ‘commission’!!

The taxi fare was less than $13, but it was more expensive than our 4-5 hour bus ride (with multiple stops, and ‘courier’ pickups of parcels!).  The bus ride was an experience in itself in the traffic, again overtaking at blind corners and wrong side!  I wished I could capture the incredible double traffic rules: Who Dares Wins” and “who is bigger has the right of way” – but still photography is limited in its ability to capture this.

We arrived in the seminary in the heat of the day and bordering on siesta time where everything would have been closed!.  Luckily we got there to get into our rooms…….

Photo opportunities were everywhere, but the heat and my laziness meant that mostly, the camera was  untouched.  I did managed to snap some from the bus but there were generally too blurry: e.g. a bus load of dogs destined for the dinner table!!!

MP080551 lores Vinh Image

“Hot Dogs” have a different meaning here!.

The skin on my hands that has not been protected by my long sleeve is peeling from sunburnt.  I have rashes from sweating too much.  Bring on the Middle East next week!!

I am missing our NZ winter!!!!