Emotionally drained by a barrage of disturbing information, I stopped at a roadside shack for a sip of iced green tea. The vendor, a middle-aged Vietnamese woman with remarkable geniality, helped me get to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Lost for words, I pointed at the location on Google Maps marked by its Vietnamese name. She went inside and asked her aide, a pleasing young man, to take me to my destination. Soon he appeared with two helmets, one for him and one for me. I asked how much I had to pay him and he just smiled and said, "Nothing". We rode through the endless traffic on his motorbike for about fifteen minutes before arriving at the Pagoda. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and wished him well. It was a beautiful feeling.
Next we took a cab to Jade Emperor Pagoda or Phuoc Hai Tu Pagoda. It is a Taoist Pagoda built by the Cantonese Chinese community in 1909. The temple is dedicated to many Buddhist and Taoist Gods, most important being Jade Emperor, the Supreme of Taoist God. If you are going without a guide, do read up on it before visiting. There are multiple sections signifying various aspects of Chinese beliefs and rituals. There is a small hall with statue of Chief of Hell. Another room contains 12 women figures , each figure representing a year in Chinese astrological calendar. There is another hall containing statue of goddess of Mercy. As part of the tour, we had the option of visiting local markets with our guides but we decided to do those on our own. We finished the tour at 2pm. After resting for some time we went to Benh Than Market located right next to our hotel. It is a huge covered market where you can find anything -clothes , footwear, food , souvenirs , handicrafts, electronics etc. You need to use your bargaining skills to the fullest. There is a small section with fixed priced shops, which I much preferred. Around 6pm, the shops closes down, and stalls get set up on the surrounding streets. We then visited an Indian friend's house in District 3. District 3 is the expat colony in HCM with beautiful villas and modern high-rise residential buildings. From there we headed to Opera house to catch the 8pm AO show. It is a one hour performance with a mix of acrobatic acts and theatrics. There are no vocals, only music and dance acts presenting Vietnamese culture in a contemporary manner. The cheapest ticket was for 500,000 VND. You can book online or buy on spot. Better to book online in advance to get better seats.After the show, we again went back to the Ben Thanh Market, this time to see the night version of it as a street market.Day 10: Mekong Delta Tour