Monday, March 17, 2008

Services At Perfume Pagoda

Money changers - Perfume pagoda Feb 2008

For someone like me who doesn't really know anything about pagoda culture, including the services offered, my recent trips have been interesting. All kinds of special services exist, such as money changers, incense sellers and lighters, fake money vendors, florists, wish list writers, relax mattress providers, toilets, hot showers, porters, and so on. I saw so many people exchanging money around the Perfume Pagoda it was like a bank. Everyone going to pagodas needs small money to put on altars and on the food trays, and also to give away to beggars for luck. If you want to change 100,000 dong, it will cost you 10-20,000 dong. That's the rule and everyone observes it.

Services - Perfume pagoda Feb 2008

Lots of other services exist on the way up the hill, including souvenir shops and small restaurants where you can sit down and eat your own picnic food. They charge 10,000 dong for one mattress which can handle five people, and if you want to borrow a knife or glasses, they may charge some more for that. There are many CD shop around and unfortunately, they don't play meditation or religious music. They play horrible crap pop music so loud which is really annoying. Everything you purchase needs to be agreed on in price in advance to avoid getting ripped off when you ask for the bill. Lots of these people assume that everyone who comes from the city is rich! But on the other hand, these people really only have a chance to earn money in the first few lunar months during the pagoda festivals.

Phototgraphers - Perfume pagoda Feb 2008

Photographers also offer a service and there are heaps of them around. They ask every single person if they want their photo taken as a souvenir except me. They hate people who bring their own cameras! It is usually an express service and the photos can be ready in an hour but they are quite expensive. Many Vietnamese people nowadays have their own digital cameras but some of them still want a professional photographer to take a good one to show their friends. I heard one group of people arguing with one of the photographers about the quality and refusing to pay.

Perfume pagoda Feb 2008 (39)

The third service is a vital one during the trip: the toilet part. It really makes me angry that they are really bad, stinky and dirty toilets at some of these pagodas because you have to pay to go. Some places charge 1000 dong and others charge 2000 dong and if you have to do number 2 then you may pay more for paper:). I always save doing number 2 until I get back to Hanoi as toilets here don't have doors and you have to hold your breath. They also sell hot water for showers as well and I'm not sure if it's clean water but I didn't see many people taking showers here. I didn't ask the price for this but I don't think it would be cheap.

Porter - Perfume pagoda Feb 2008

The best part of my trip was my conversation with Huyen, a porter who's 32 years old with three kids. She's from My Duc, Ha Tay. She comes here to offer people to carry their stuff up the hill to the cave pagoda. She said that some days she earns about 200,000 dong and some days she earns nothing because there are lots of people around doing the same job and the competition is tough. She's such a nice lady. She also said that she only does this during the festival as her main job is working on the rice farm. This is a good chance to earn some extra money for her kids for schooling and also save a little bit for the family. It was really nice talking to her and I feel bad that we didn't have any way to help her out but I gave her 20,000 dong so she could buy something to drink.

Rubbish - Perfume pagoda Feb 2008

Finally, I think the government should do something about the environment here as I saw people throwing rubbish all around, in the river and on the side of the hill. Visitors are destroying this beautiful place every single day even though there are many signs around but it doesn't seem to mean anything. Please keep the place as clean as it should be as this is such a holy place which attracts so much tourists, and also give hundreds of jobs for the local people.


Unknown said...

It makes me mad that people don't take care of the the environment. You just need to pick after yourself, and it helps you know..

My sister and dad are going to visit Hue this summer, any good recommendation?

Van Cong Tu said...

Hi, I've sent you some ideas in your blog and hope it can help.

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Lee San said...

Hi there

I have limited time in Hanoi, and still can't decide Tam Coc or Perfume Pagoda, do you have any recommedation? Thanks


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