Finally, we arrived at Thien Tru Temple( God's Kitchen). The rules of Thien Tru Temple don't allow visitors to put meat on the offerings tray and my friends had to remove the huge chicken and replace it with some more beers, cokes, square cake, flowers, sticky rice, money some fresh fruit and and lighted incense. This is such a busy destination as most people come here before heading to the top of the hill then down to Huong Tich Cave.
Devotees spend billions of dong here at this festival in the form of fake money, and fake holy stuff which is then burnt in giant incinerators after 15 minutes of praying and offering. People satnd in queues just to burn these papers and the ash flys around in the air, into everyone's hair like a volcano has just erupted. This is a tradition that should remain but people shouldn't burn so much in the hope that they will get the same in return. It's all very superstitious. I only spent about 300,000 dong on the whole trip including food, drink and transportation but many people spent millions of dong for the same thing but with the burning of the fake papers.
Khai, my friend, had to bring the tray inside and the rest of us took a rest to take photos around the complex. I tried to get inside to take some photos and give a wish but I couldn't as too many people were praying and reading their wish lists at that time. We left the Kitchen God's temple for Huong Tich Cave which took us about an hour. It was a pleasant climbing trip as we could see the scenery around and also hear the crazy music and look at the souvenir shops along the way. People were selling all kinds of goods, from sugarcane juice to toilet services. The toilet service is popular and you can imagine what the experience was like with all those people on the mountain!!! We decided to stop for lunch on the way up at one of the relaxing areas which had mattresses. We laid out all of the food which had been offered to the gods and tried to finish it all. Some of my friends felt a bit drunk after a few beers. We ate two big chickens, two square cakes, lots of fresh fruit, pork rolls and two plates of sticky rice. I felt sleepy after all but we had to finish our trip up.
Eventually we arrived at Huong Tich Cave and my friends repeated the same procedure with the tray and more food! This time our tray was topped with a special fake money tree. Hoang, one of the boys on the trip took them deep inside the cave which has the main altars of the whole complex. We had to be really aggressive to get close to the alters to pray. This is a huge cave packed with people inside praying at the same time. Most people touched the rock called 'the golden tree' wishing for a lucky year. They also stood around waiting for water drops to drip on their hands in another place called mother's breast for the same reason.
Thanks to Khai and his friends for inviting on this journey and, even though I'm not a very religious person, I really enjoyed the cultural experience and hope that everyone who believes gets what they prayed for!