A thoughtful end to my time in Hue
Right at the end of my time in Hue I went to see the beautiful old Thien Mu Pagoda. It was built by one of the first Lords from the House of Nguyen (rulers of south Vietnam) in 1601. It towers on a hill over looking the perfume river which flows through the town.
It was beautiful to see but as I explored behind it I found an active monastery and stumbled across a kind of shrine to a news story involving a buddhist monk back in 1963. It was a jolt for me as I am very familiar with the story my dad would talk of it often when I was a teenager. The monk was Thích Quang Duc who was in his sixties at the time and decided with his fellow monks that as a protest against the alleged persecution of buddhists by the South Vietnamese government he would perform the act of self-immolation, basically setting ones self on fire. My dad showed me pictures and would speak about sacrifice for what you know to be right and about how important it is to make a stand for justice. As a teenager I remember being a little disturbed, to say the least, by the images and they have never left me. Stumbling across this image again all these years later along with the car he drove all the way from Hue and his home at this monastery down to Saigon, nearly 590 miles, transported me right back to listening to my dad and feeling proud about the things he taught me and how he showed me to live life. He is not around anymore so this whole experience was very moving and special. I had another similar experience when I went to Gandhi’s house in Mumbai India but that is another story.
This is the car he drove knowing what he had chosen to do once he arrived in Saigon with an image of the event behind it. The photograph below is one of the photos taken by Malcolm Browne the photographic journalist who was there on that day and captured the whole event. He was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year for the pictures. The images then went viral (in a 1960’s kind of a way) and this one is curtesy of Time magazine.
I felt a little shaken and emotional after all that but as I walked back towards the river the sun had set and there was a beautiful dusk hanging over the river full of calm. So I thought it best to end with that image and a moment of thought for those that do incredible things in the struggle for justice.