Friday, May 4, 2012

In Da Lat by chance

I am in Da Lat by chance. We arrived here on Sunday April 29th, 2012 around 7 pm. Monday, April 30th, 2012 was Vietnam's reunification day, and Tuesday May 1, 2012 was Labor Day, both national holidays in Vietnam. With the weekend approaching, I suggested to my wife that we take a trip to Madagui and Da Lat. I could tell that she was excited. 

My wife's sister got into the loop and soon had a van and other travel arrangements ready. I have to admit that my sister-in-law is just amazing. She can get things done, no matter what, where, when, and how complex the task might be. We left Saigon on Saturday, April 28th for Madagui. After a short overnight stay in Madagui, we headed North towards Da Lat. The feelings of anticipation and anxiety were flowing through my body. The visit to Da Lat triggered my thoughts from an earlier visit in August 1998, in ways I could never have imagined. The original plan was to stay for 2 nights in Da Lat and return to Saigon on Tuesday, so I could go back to my work on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2012. But this plan was destined to change. 

My wife had hinted earlier about staying longer in Da Lat. But my mind was not focused on what to anticipate. For me, it felt as though I needed a break from my work, and to just getaway for a couple of days. At a spur of the moment, I just felt I wanted to stay longer, maybe till the end of the week -- maybe until Saturday, May 5th, 2012. My thoughts were jumping from one to another. Much like a flickering flame, my thoughts jumped from the enrichment of work that I am engaged in, to the spiritual wisdom from enlightenment. 

As a Fulbrighter in Vietnam, I have engaged myself deeply in various aspects of the Vietnamese culture and education. My work, therefore, is my driving force for exploring visions of Vietnam that I have never had a chance in the past to think about. All my previous visits to Vietnam were very short with no time to relax and engage in everything. 

Our anticipated departure from Da Lat on Saturday, May 5th, 2012, was also bound to change because I found out that May 5th, 2012 is Buddha's Birthday, Vesak. This made me even more excited. I had to stay back to witness and be part of the celebrations.

Banners are all over town. Floats bearing a statue of Siddhartha pointing the index finger of the right hand to the sky, and the index finger of the left hand to Earth are being prepared for the celebrations. Da Lat is buzzing with activity.

Here are some pictures of what is going on in Da Lat.

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