More intriguing faces of Vietnam

By Thang Ngo

This Vietnam Faces series is a collection of strangers that noodlies, Sydney food blog encountered during a recent visit of Vietnam. One of the fleeting encounters that will intrigue me for a long time.

Just like the woman on the beach at Mui Ne, the encounter with a Buddhist monk while visiting Thap Thap temple, Quy Nhon was brief. Quy Nhon is the capital of Binh Dinh, a province of Vietnam that was, in the 11th century, part of the Kingdom of Champa. This port city is also believed to be where Buddhism was first introduced to Vietnam.

chua thap thap quy nhon vietnam

At Thap Thap temple, we visited the main shrine and, as is the custom, when visitors come to pay respect to the Buddha, a monk or novice is in attendance to chime the bell.

Over 400 years old, the exterior commands a stature befitting of its antiquity, the colourful plants softening age-old concrete.

chua thap thap quy nhon vietnam
chua thap thap quy nhon vietnam

Inside the dark main shrine, that aged beauty is even more apparent – mostly in the woodwork; of the golden religious statues and in the red and gold ornate, sturdy shrines.

chua thap thap quy nhon vietnam

But it’s the monk (or novice) in a simple grey robe which fascinates me. He tells he’s 19 years old. His family is from Quy Nhon. He laughs in seeming mild embarrassment as he tells me that he’s always wanted to be a monk. His family let him ordain a year ago at 18 years of age.

chua thap thap quy nhon vietnam

But of course, our group had to move on, and our brief time was so soon over.

My mind still raced with so many, many more questions:

  • When Vietnam is getting prosperous, why did he want to renounce worldly matters to become a monk?
  • Why Thap Thap temple?
  • What does he enjoy about his new, simple life?
  • Does he miss his family? And do they visit?

A few days later, the questions remained. But with time there’s clarity. I realise these questions are as much for me. Would I ever consider a more worthy, spiritual path or am my content in the current material affluence?

I’m not sure if I’m ready to face that answer.

This noodlies, Sydney food blog experience is courtesy of the lovely folks at Avani.