Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the notre dame cathedral in ho chi minh city

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

we first saw the grandeur of the notre dame cathedral in the middle of a languid walk around district 1 in ho chi minh city. the relaxing lethargy in the midst of the towering trees, came upon us after we knew that the reunification palace was closed for lunchtime. what to do then? well, breinn and i whiled away by sitting on one of the park benches, mimicking the other couples in the area. going local, eh?

as if we didn't only have a weekend in the old saigon, we forced our butts, stretched our muscles and continued to walk. nah, we didn't stay as locals for long.

emerging from the canopy of age-old trees in the park, we were astounded to gaze upon a magnificent beauty, the notre dame cathedral. it sits prim and proper in the middle of the busy streets where thousands of motorbikes, regularly whiz by. it gracefully remains in its posture, seemingly oblivious to the chaos around it.

oh notre dame cathedral. where shall i find more appropriate adjectives to describe you?

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

to be honest, we actually spent an amount of time at this very spot, taking turns for our obligatory photo. we got so overwhelmed by the notre dame that we were transfixed for a few moments, trying to fathom the awesome architecture in front of us. even breinn volunteered for a photo which only happens very rarely.

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

here's the other end of the cathedral and of course, since it's vietnam, it won't be complete without the presence of motorbikes. i'm wondering if the vietnamese get the same amazement every time they pass the notre dame. you know, if it means every day in their lives?

notre dame cathedral came about during the french colonization in vietnam. the construction took 17 years and it was finally completed in the year 1880. the original building materials are said to be imported from france. since flying to paris is a very expensive thing to do, this version of the notre dame cathedral in saigon makes already a suitable representation.

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

i have this penchant for huge doors in some beautiful buildings and the cathedral's artistic doors were no exception. they are just too pretty. can i have something like this in my house? uhm on second thought, not exactly this huge though. haha

this door was on the other side of the cathedral, the side towards the central post office (another beautiful architecture but it deserves another post). after we briefly took shelter in the post office because of the rain, breinn and i dashed to do a few snapshots with the door. this time, breinn did not volunteer. i'm guessing he's more into windows. now, where can i find his kind-of windows...

okay, moving on...

it turned out i'm not the only one who finds church doors as an incredible backdrop. there was this bride & groom, dressed up and all, that were being photographed for their post-nuptial shoot, perhaps? "post" because the woman was already wearing a wedding gown, with its train sweeping the drenched streets. spell sacrifice and for everything else, photoshop will suffice.

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

this is the front of the cathedral which faces a well-tended square and it's also where a statue of the Virgin Mary stands. can you see the clock on top of the front facade of the cathedral? well, it is very much working. it surely comes in handy for those people without a timepiece. but who doesn't have mobile phones nowadays? unless one runs out of battery though. this photo was actually taken on our second day, the explanation why the clock's hands were pointed to almost 9 o'clock. at this time, we were heading early for the cathedral to attend the 09:30 sunday english mass.

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC, Vietnam

the inside of the cathedral bears simplicity but it's nothing short of amazing, nonetheless. hearing a mass in vietnam was sort of an experience in itself for us. even if the ceremony is pretty much the same as we are used to, there were a couple of differences. first is the pews don't have attached kneelers so, not all people actually kneel during designated instances in the mass. second is during the sign of peace, people shake hands! we also did the same and it had surely taken me by surprise!

one thing i found strange was right when we exited from the church. my attention was caught by a number of ladies wearing clothes that were somewhat too sexy for church. they were handing out business cards to the churchgoers and if my eyes were right, the cards were for massages. massage parlors are very common in saigon that you can expect being offered for massages while walking along the streets. they don't become pushy though. but back to the ladies, i found the venue a little weird. but that's me, so sue me. :p


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