I could do the obvious and comment on the noise, the bikes or the mass of clashing colours all of which are imprinted on my mind and will forever be linked to Vietnam. But I’ll start with the mundane with ‘Our House’.
My Love better known as ML had agreed to rent a house for a year before I arrived, I’d seen a few photographs of empty rooms and balconies but that was all. So soon after we drove down from Hanoi to the hotel – think seaside guest house for service and quality, we dropped the cases and set off for the house.
On a road just wide enough for two cars to pass we slalomed in and out of bicycles, motor bikes and cows until we drew up at a three story house. First impressions tall, narrow and new, then you take a second look and fluttering and clashing with the green painted frontage are pink jacquard curtains with added top frill on the outside of the windows.
Well they can come down, my internal voice states.
A collection of people at the front of the house turns out to be landlord and his family who will dog our every step as later we walk through the house.
Very odd grin, all gritted teeth and spread lips I note of the landlord.
As the front door is unlocked and opened and I nearly fall up the marble steps trying to get out of my shoes I find have entered a Buddhist temple. A bright red shiny Buddha sat on a dragon throne, is holding a gold fan and a box (Find out it is an ingot for wealth and the oogie/fan for wish granting and warding off evil).
OMG am I supposed to bow – is OMG appropriate.
Stunned into silence and immobility I look around the room, on one side of a low table big enough to play snooker on is a wooden pew, the back of which is decorated with a repeating pattern of eight malevolent elephant heads. Facing the pew are two throne like wooden chairs carrying on the elephant decoration with another small table between them.
To gild or maybe one could gently suggest over-gild the lily on top of each table sandwiched between the table top and a large sheet of glass was a large cream doily liberally decorated in gold.
On the wall to my left is a small altar/shelf attached to the wall, without shoes on I’m too short to see all the contents but I can make out incense sticks, a vase of flowers, small pots and a bottle of water.
I take a step further in due to pressure of people behind me – who are they?
My eyes are drawn back to Buddha, he is sat at one end of a large decorated sideboard, balancing the decorative power of the bright red statue is a wooden vase filled with the flowers.
I hear you thinking very pretty, I say Ha. These are not delicate fragile blooms this are solid chunks of wood that could be used a lethal weapons. I guess they had to be substantial to have any hope of being admired opposite Laughing Boy. Between the two the 21st Century intrudes with a flat screen television.
Not a temple then – the lounge? OMG! Hysteria is nibbling at the edges of my calm and my vocabulary is reducing to acronyms at best and text speak at worst.
To be continued