Posts Tagged ‘temple’

Less is More!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I’ve been excited to get this adventure underway and I may have started it off like I was running a sprint when in fact it is more like a marathon… well at least a 10K (I’m talking about a run people, not a tourney, haha.) I am only half way through this trip and I am exhausted. While I might be having trouble keeping my eyes open as I write this, it is a small price to pay to be able to share a hug, a laugh, or a smile, with the people that I am helping.

It’s very fulfilling yet humbling to be back in the place that I was born, giving to those in need. Most of them are very spiritual and through their Buddhist ways they find happiness in their life in which they have few tangible things. Even though I come to Vietnam a few times a year, every trip makes me reflect on and appreciate the simple things that we all sometimes overlook or take for granted. Even though I am here to help them, they actually have helped me also by showing me how they live such simple yet full and meaningful lives.

One of the reasons this charity journey has made me look inside myself more so than any of my previous is because it is by far the toughest that I have ever done. On all of my other endeavors I was up and on the road by 6am every morning to travel to my destination and I always made it back into the city by the end of that day. Not to say that the past trips were a walk in the park but there was a little more comfort and down time.

This trip, a crew of 20 and I were 15 hours outside the city and we continued to travel deeper into the countryside each day. Once we started nearing our furthest destinations I realized that we were unfortunately going to have to cut the last portion of the trip short; the dirt roads were no longer fit for cars because they were mostly sand and full of holes since the floods came through.

I actually made it to one more destination after the roads got bad because it was only about a half hour walk from where the van had gone as far as it could go. The route we took once we left the city allowed me to make several stops along the way to visit and help a poor village in Que Son- Quang Nam , an orphanage for the blind in Thanh Binh, an orphanage for new-born children in Phu Ninh, a village in Phu Yen where the massive typhoon Ketsana occurred, and a temple in Phu Yen that also suffered severe damages from typhoon Ketsana.

(village in Que-Son, Quang Nam)

(orphanage for the blinds in Thanh Binh)

(orphanage for newborn children in Phu Ninh)

(village in Phu Yen where the massive typhoon Ketsana occurred)

(temple in Phu Yen suffers severe damage due to typhoon Ketsana)

We spent a few hours at the temple before heading back on the road back to DaNang, which took almost 9 hours of driving. By the time I made it back to my hotel, which was around 12am, I was super exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep. I finally got about one hour of sleep until I had to get up again and head over to the children’s cancer hospital, where I had chosen 30 kids that were at their last stage, and granted each one of them their last wish.

My next visit was to the elders orphanage, a place that is always on my list to visit every year. It was sad to hear that a few old ladies had passed away since the last time I was there. But I was delighted to see the rest of the other old ladies happy and in good health. I was able to feed them all a nice meal, gave them a 7 item gift bag, boxes of noodles, and 50lb bags of rice.

The orphanage for the new-born was the most touching for me but each stop was very meaningful. I was told many stories along the way and a couple of them about the abandonment of the young and the old were quite heartbreaking. It’s sad that things like this happen but it is a blessing that there are places and people like the ones that I visited that have taken them in to care for them. The whole trip has been a wonderful experience so far and I am looking forward to a little rest and stage two of this little adventure which has already taken me to Saigon and will lead me to Hanoi for the finale.

Cheers!

In Good Spirits

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Sorry for the infrequent updates on my blog. I want to tell everyone I am still in Vietnam and all is well. I’ve been doing some sight seeing with my cousin and even had some spiritual enlightenment during my adventures in Vietnam.

(sight seeing in Hanoi with my cousin Thuy)

Wikipedia defines spirituality as such:

Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit, a concept closely tied to religious belief and faith, a transcendent reality, or one or more deities. Spiritual matters are thus those matters regarding humankind’s ultimate nature and meaning, not only as material biological organisms, but as beings with a unique relationship to that which is perceived to be beyond the bodily senses, time and the material world. Spiritual also implies the mind-body dichotomy, which indicates a separation between the body and soul.

Yes, whatever Wikipedia just said!! I had one of those types of experiences in the past week, actually several and they are experiences you cannot explain in the logical and physical sense. At the risk of sounding crazy, ha-ha, let’s just say I’ve had some eye opening visits with some very spiritual people including some very high ranking monks. It’s been a very good experience and I have some renewed joy for the upcoming year.

Along my spiritual travel, I was also able to get in touch with one of my long lost half sisters. Without getting into detail, she’s going through some tough times but is in good spirits and an extremely smart woman. I had a very good and long conversation with her and I hope to be able to update everyone on some really good news and share more about this situation at a future date.

This trip so far has had many twists and turns. I did take a sight seeing trip this week. I visited many of the famous and popular tourist spots around Hanoi, Vietnam and on this trip I was even able to go by my old childhood home. This was before Colorado when I was very young. Our old neighbors still lived next door!! I learned my dad visited with them before he passed away last year.

Fifteen new homes have gone up since I left and the area is more developed than when I was a kid but many of the same landmarks still exist and I was glad to be able to chat with my family’s old neighbors that I hardly even remembered because I was too young. They told me stories of my dad and mom back in those days and it brought cheer to me. I never knew that I was actually born into a wealthy family. All the photos you see below are the lands that use to belong to my family, including the temple that still stands today.

(family neighbor)
(family neighbor)
(entrance to my family’s temple)
(family temple still standing)
(100+ years old)
(private praying room)
(main praying room)
Right now there is a lot of preparation for the Chinese New Year which happens on January 26th. In Vietnam, the Chinese New Year is a much larger celebration than the New Year we celebrate in the United States or Europe. According to my Zodiac sign, I anticipate a very good year in 2009. I look forward to the New Year more than most.

I have two more weeks in Vietnam before travelling to the Philippines for the APT event in Manila so I hope to share some more stories and updates about my travels.

Cheers!

Greetings from Vietnam!!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Here’s a quick little update from Vietnam. After a 16 hour flight, I arrived just in time to spend NYE with some family. After I settled in of course!! The trip didn’t really start off on the best note. It rained non-stop once I arrived in Saigon. At one point, I guess too much water accumulated on the roof and something was wrong with the drainage so it flooded the upstairs at my aunt’s house. There was water everywhere and we spent a couple of hours pitching in and draining the water the best we could. Eventually we stopped the leak and cleared out the water. I was finally able to get some sleep!

The next day was the day before New Year and that evening a bunch of us gathered together and headed out to a popular night spot, called the Volcano!! The weather was nice so my niece and I went for a walk around the city to see all the beautiful lights and decorations before heading out for the 2009 countdown. Tina’s husband Hoa reserved the best table/section in the house, right above the dance floor and DJ booth. We stayed until about 2am and I celebrated my first official NYE in Vietnam.

The next day I had to do some shopping for a more traditional looking Vietnamese dress for my niece Tina’s wedding. I found some great material in this soft green color and I had a dressmaker follow a set of designs I had. The dress came out beautifully and I was pleased. Unfortunately this day didn’t end quite as smoothly either because I dropped my blackberry into a puddle of water. The phone worked fine but the trackball couldn’t scroll up or down so the phone was pretty much useless. I couldn’t get to any of my applications or my address book. So, I went out and spent $300 for a new phone which didn’t work either because it wasn’t compatible with my service provider. Argh!

Finally, the day of my nieces wedding arrived and it was a great wedding and ceremony. My niece is marrying a very kind and generous man. He is also quite wealthy and the reception was very beautiful. There were more than 700 guests invited to the reception at the Rex Hotel and I can only imagine how much the whole event cost. I was able to spend some time with the groom, Hao and his family and they are very respectful and kind people. I am so happy that my niece found a good man who loves her and will take care of her.

I am in Vietnam for a couple more weeks before heading off to the Philippines. I will continue to visit the temple my Dad is placed at and visit with my half brother and sister in the upcoming week. For now, I am with my aunt, cousin, and nephew in Saigon. I plan to do some charity work as well and travel all over Vietnam. I will keep everyone posted as soon as I can. I am not exactly sure how much I plan to blog while I am travelling but I will do the best I can. I hope everyone had a great New Year and 2009 brings everyone cheer and joy!!

The Best and Worst of Times

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

After a seventeen hour flight, I’ve finally arrived back in Vietnam on the 29th of July.  Eight months have already pass by since my last visit back to my homeland for my father’s 100th day praying ceremony, amazing how time flies by so quick. And now I find myself back again. This time is for the one-year anniversary of my beloved father’s passing and also I will be spending a few weeks doing my charity work.

I spent my first two days in Saigon to spend some time with my father at Lam Te Temple. Then I hopped on a flight to DaNang with my cousin, niece, and nephew for four days to start my charity journey along with my Teacher monk. As soon we got off the plane, I grabbed a taxi and headed straight to my Teacher monk’s temple to prepare all the necessities needed for the early trip the next day.

We were off and on the road by 6 am, drove five hours on rough bumpy roads to finally reach our destination. By the time we arrived, all the villagers were already at the temple waiting patiently.

Before I began passing out the much-needed food to these villagers, a ceremony was conducted by my Teacher Monk to honor me with blessings. I slipped into a blue robe throughout the ceremony which represents my status as his disciple. Being granted  Buddhism relics is one of the most precious gift for a temple, and I felt honored when my Teacher Monk showed me the 3 relics that was granted to his temple in DaNang.

It was time to distribute the supplies to the villagers when the ceremony ended. There are more than 200 homes in that village so it took us about 2 hours to give out all the supplies. As an appreciation, the villagers prepared a vegetarian feast at the temple for me and my family. This charity journey took over 15 hours on the road, but it was all well worth it!

It was my birthday the day after our charity trip. However, it wasn’t a good time for celebration because I’m here to mourn for my dad. I decided to go the temple to spend a peaceful birthday, my Teacher Monk conducted a four hour ceremony to pray for both my father and I.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my family, friends, and fans for all the kind birthday wishes. Much love to you all!

I spent the rest of that evening and the following day just playing online at Chilipoker. Then took an evening flight back to Saigon. I’m currently still in Saigon right now preparing a big praying ceremony for my dad’s anniversary on the 18th of August. I’ll be here till the end of the month, then I’m off to Macau. Take care till then.

Cheers!