Last week, I joined a trip with my friend's company to Yen Tu Pagoda, the most holy and highest pagoda in the north and in fact, the whole of Vietnam. We started our trip at 3pm the day before and arrived at the base of the mountain after two and a half hours in the bus. The weather wasn't good as we expected as it was raining the whole day before and it meant the road was very wet, slippery and dangerous. We stopped at a small temple on the way and then spent almost an hour at Thien Vien Pagoda. After that we went straight on to Giai Oan Temple for 15 minutes of praying to release whatever we had done wrong in the past year, before heading up to buy cable car tickets for the next day. We decided to sleep overnight on the chieu nghi(sleeping mats) in Ngoc Hai restaurant, right next to Hoa Yen Pagoda then take a cable car at 6 am the next day. We hired the whole second floor of the restaurant for the 39 people on the trip. A few of us stayed at the place to prepare the dinner while most of our group went to Hoa Yen Pagoda for a short prayer.
The Sofitel Plaza staff, who I was invited to travel with, were really organized and had everything imaginable prepared, including a great dinner with lots of vegetables, cheeses, ham, boiled eggs, tofu with tomato sauce, chicken, square cake, sticky rice, bread, butter and of course, lots of wine, beer, soft drink and juice. I've never ever joined such a trip like this and just loved eating and talking with them. I found out that one of the ladies works in the hotel kitchen so no wonder she did it so amazingly well.
After dinner, everyone went upstairs for a nap trying to save energy for the next day but only a few of the women went to bed as most people started playing games. I couldn't sleep very well because whenever someone won the game of cards a cheer went up. It seemed to keep going from 9 pm until 5am. It's truly amazing that they still looked fine the next day and walked so fast up to the top of the moutain. There must have been something special in the chicken porridge they had for breakfast.