Today we drove practically to the border of Cambodia to the Holy See of the Cao Dai religion. A 20th century concoction of Catholicism and Asia's great religions, Cao Dai exists only in Vietnam. Winston Churchill is a saint!
High inside the cathedral we witnessed midday prayers. An eerie chorus of young girls chanted as hundreds of robed worshipers processed into the bizarrely magnificent sanctuary. In "The Quiet American," Graham Greene likened this to a scene from Disney's "Fantasia".
After lunch we visited the famous Cu Chi Tunnels nearby. During the American War, the Viet Cong built an incredible network of tunnels that stretched practically from Cambodia to Saigon. Thousands lived and fought the war underground. Bomb craters are everywhere. You can crawl into the narrow tunnels if you are brave enough. My slender friend Trung navigated the tiny passages effortlessly, but they were not made for a big American butt like mine!
Tonight Trung and I will take our traveling companions to our favorite outdoor "bia hoi" to drink cheap beer and enjoy the festive atmosphere. There's always a handsome crowd, especially after the discos close. It's no place to be shy--strangers will invite you to their tables or they may simply pull up a chair at yours. The toasts, gossip, dishing and camping are almost deafening. Since tomorrow is reserved for swimming (new friends we meet tonight will surely join us), we'll stay until the streets are deserted.
Can you believe it? Christmas is approaching fast. Saigon will be lavishly decorated with twinkling lights and fake snow. I can't wait to be here. Why don't you join me?