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The trek to this temple today was as daunting as the incense in this photo is thick.

This is the Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the most authentic, alive pagodas I’ve seen in my travels. Dirty, incense-laden, teeming with worshippers, and with pools full of fish and turtles offered to the various and grotesquely beautiful Taoist and Buddhist characters depicted inside, I almost didn’t find this one – and when I figured out what road I had to cross to get there, I almost bailed. That would have been tragic. This is by far one of my favorite spots in Vietnam. It even depicts a “Chief of Hell,” Thanh Hoang, who was very creepy. The whole scene was surreal.

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After I made it, frogger-style, back across the street that had almost defeated me, I had a hair-raising moment of de zha vu during which I felt like I had been on the adjacent street before- maybe when i was lost?!? Seriously, it was weird. And at that moment I decided that I really like this city – heat and traffic aside.

I’m not going to detail today like yesterday because, after this pagoda it wasn’t that spectacular. Once again I sweated and itched my way around town; paid next to nothing to tour some great sights; and ate some amazing food. I’m liking Vietnam more and more.

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