Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tay Ninh - 1994

I love this pic of me taken outside the Tay Ninh Cao Dai Cathedral in 1994.
I am young, moderately beautiful (hey, somebody's gotta sing my praises) and quite fit.
I had been desperate to visit Tay Ninh, having just read The Quiet American and already being fascinated by the religion of Cao Dai. I had to agitate quite a bit - my partner's family were hesitant to go all that way to see something they viewed as of no possible interest to a sophisticated foreigner.
Eventually my mother-in-law relented and hired a car, and we drove out.
My partner's father, a staunch fundamentalist Christian, refused to enter the place, convinced it was a haunt of the devil. My mother-in-law timidly peeped her head into the cathedral, but when she saw the viewing balconies that ran high up along the walls she declared the entire thing a death trap. She beseeched me not to go up there - she was certain she could see those balconies swaying.
But of course I clambered up, and stayed for the duration of the midday prayers. I had no way of knowing that in the future I would do this many, many times, and would come to know the quaint little city of Tay Ninh like the back of my hand.

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