If you’re ever in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), contact Volunteer for Tourism Organization and arrange a free tour of the city! VTO is comprised of local volunteers who wish to meet foreigners and practice their language skills!
I met up with my tour guide, Pi at 2pm. After visiting the popular Flower Market, Pi and I hung out for almost two hours in the Caodaism temple waiting for the rain to pass, learning a lot about Vietnamese culture, norms, and of course, Caodaism!
Turns out that Pi–who, coincidentally, is originally from Quang Nam province where I volunteered a few weeks earlier—had JUST attended his graduation ceremony that same morning, and was now officially out in the Vietnamese workforce with a degree in Human Resources!
Interestingly, “…Adherents [of Caodaism] engage in practices such as prayer, veneration of ancestors, nonviolence, and vegetarianism with the goal of union with God and freedom from saṃsāra [the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound]….” You can read more on wikipedia
After a failed attempt to find a veggie restaurant for me that didn’t pre-season with sugar and MSG, Pi got some food from a street vendor, and we hung out under a canopy in front of a shuttered storefront and chatted until the rain passed!
It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and I have another tour scheduled for Monday with a different guide! Meanwhile, please help Pi grow the organization to keep the volunteers busy and serve foreign tourists as well ! How? Simply contact them through the VTO Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/vtovietnam)and arrange a free tour for yourself (yes, tips are accepted!), or share the page with your nomad/traveler friends or social network!
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