The perfume pagoda - VietnamApril 4, 2016 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C
So, I decided to go to the perfume pagoda after my friends described it to me as a "mystic" experience. According to them, the way to the park where you can climb to the temple, was an amazing experience. Needless to say, my expectations were very high (classic mistake #1). I booked a tour, and for starters it took us 3 hours to get to the pier where you catch the boat to the pagoda. The bus was full of vietnamesses, me and a French girl. Naturally, the guide didn't feel the need to speak English to us, and just did Vietnamese the whole way. Ergo, we didn't know what was going in the whole way. The driver stopped in three places, for 20 minutes at a time, where there was nothing else for us to do but to shop for something. ANNOYING. When we finally got to the pier, we waited around a bit more for other tours to join us so we could fill in boats. Our boat rower was an (apparently) nice old lady who politely introduced herself, and was particularly interested in knowing about me. So far, so good. She rowed for two minutes across the pier, where we stopped for another 20 or so minutes, again, purely a shopping stop. When we finally started our way up the river to the park that houses the temple, it was nice. The water is quiet, and the scenery is beautiful. There are mountains in the backdrop and rice fields. Ducks swim by. And the locals which overfill boats all say hello to the "whities" boats. Once we got to the pier, i could immediately see what this visit would be about. It's full of shops, shops, shops, shops everywhere. We had a decent lunch, and then our group got separated into two; the people who had paid for the cable cart to take them to the top of the mountain, and us, the people who chose to walk up. A piece of advice here: if you absolutely want to see this place, which i strongly recommend against, pay and get the cable cart up. The hike is tiring yes. But that's not the worst part. The one hour super steep climb up is between two rows of shops, a sea of people going down, people on microphones advertising what they sell, people trying to grab you and lure you in to their shops. And it's hot, and humid, and at no point can you see what I'm sure would otherwise be a gorgeous view. You finally get to the temple, which is embedded in a impresssive gigantic cave. And no matter how you got up there, this is a sight worth going up there for. The temple is crowded with people worshiping and bringing in offerings. And its decorated with flowers and candles. People rub their money in the sacred water that drips down the caves columns for good luck. It is nice.
We row back to the minivans two hours late (and I'm certain I'll miss my next tour. Although this seems to not matter at all to our unhelpful guide) The way back is again pleasant. The views are beautiful.
We get close and our rower demands her tip (many many tired). We all gave her around a dollar, but this couple had ran out of change so they gave her what they had left. Boy, was she mad. And she wasn't having it. She demanded more money, if not from them, from the rest of us. And she refused to row us back to then pier until she got more money. Needless to say, a very tense moment. To be faur to the couple, we were never advised that we should carry change for tip, and we had already paid quite a bit for a very disappointing tour. In sum, I'm glad I got to experience the river and seen the pagoda. Was it worth the 25 USD I paid for the tour? Would I do it again? Probably not.Read more