Last night I dreamed of Ho Chi Minh City. When I woke up I was surprised to be in Manchester. The dream was so real.
I immediately wanted to see my photos of the trip I made in 1994 but the photos are only in Australia – long story – stories actually – and in my head of course.
So I went to Google Images to find some, and – surprise, surprise- a lot has changed in 24 years and I could hardly recognise the place! The landmarks I remember are shadowed by towering buildings with pretty neon lights. All except one.
The Cao Dai Temple. The first time I saw it was with my sister in law Cathie who is a tireless adventurer, researcher of peoples and an incredible photographer – I must ask her for photos of that day.
It was a humid and heavy day but the building was glowing in colours impossible to describe or accurately capture in photos. It took my breath away. Seeing something like that makes me very emotional. But then we went inside.
And I was so stunned that I had to sit down a while. Inside was a riot of colour, ideas, chaos and order. In my travels before and since, no place has affected me in quite this way.
Cao Dai takes ideas and influences from a mix of sources and recognises prophets from a range of other religions as well as traditional ethical ideas from Vietnamese sources. In this context, every aspect of the architecture is completely logical and fit for purpose. What seems chaotic on first viewing makes complete sense – especially once the people come to worship. No part of the design is there by chance.
So you see you can go back. It just takes a dream and a bit of Googling to prompt you.
If you would like to know more, you could start here: