14.11.05

Viêt Nam 05 p3

Perfume Pagoda and Wushu Championship

Back in Ha Noi, I only had a couple of days to wait for th Lebanese Wushu team to arrive for the World Championship, and I dedicated one of them to a popular tour, the Perfume Pagoda. Mostly due to the weather, it was not the most memorable tour, but I had a good time with a Spanish traveller and a Japanese couple I was paired with for the day. During the hour it took for us 4 to be rowed to the site and back, we had a triangular conversation whereas the Spaniard was practicing his English, the Japanese their Spanish, and me my Japanese. There was another hour of climbing to Hương Tích Chùa, the "Pagoda of the Perfume Mountain", which is actually a cave where the goddess Quan Am Bo To is worshipped.

The dock in Ben Duc from which we left on these less-than-reassuring barges.


The boat ride up Yen Vi river would have been lovely if it hadn't been so cold.
Back at the foot of the mountain, we visited another pagoda: Thiên Tru, "the Heavenly Kitchen", a real architectural beauty. The name seems to be derived from that of a constellation assigned to the kitchen gods, but I can't be sure I heard the guide right.




Upon leaving we happened to witness how the boats we had been riding in were made. Eek!


Finally the long-awaited World Wushu Championship began. I had met up with the team and, after the spectacular opening ceremony, kept close by during the week it lasted, attending most events and enjoying the sportive atmosphere of all the teams come together. It was all inspiring, but some moments stand vividly in my mind:
- After a quarter final Sanshou match with South Korea vs North Korea, the two fighters hugging each other and each other's coaches much more effusively than protocol requires.
- The South African Jiàn Shu competitor falling on his head during an aerial cartwheel, losing consciousness for a couple of seconds but then, before the medics could run to him, getting up unsteadily and finishing his form under the supportive applause of all the teams.
- When shopping in our free time, entering a shop to find the clerks watching the championship on TV, and them turning around, staring at our t-shirts to exclaim "You Wushu!"
- Lebanon making it to the Sanshou final and earning a silver medal while we and the French team (old friends) went wild – and in Taiji Jiàn, taking the first place in Europe (11th behind Asian teams).
- The Vietnamese audience supporting its athletes with all the excitement and trumpets (literally) one can expect. Heck, most of us were wearing Việt Nam pin's, flags and t-shirts by the end.

Quan Ngua Sports Palace ready for the games
The opening ceremony begins...




Announcements were made in Chinese, so I couldn't always catch who was playing when I was on the wrong side of a screen, but in the end I was able to figure it out from the cries of the crowd:
- Vast clamor: Vietnamese athlete.
- Terrific ruckus made by a handful of people: Turkish athlete (the home team is always the 2nd noisiest in any championship – right behind the Turkish team).
- Screams ending in what sounded like TETEEEH!: Korean athlete.
- Silence punctuated by "A!": Japanese athlete.
- The Chinese don't yell encouragements, because they know they're going to win (I'm only half kidding).
- As for "Jayo!", Chinese for "victory", it can pretty much mean anyone as it seems to be a Wushu battle cry!

Gun Shu performance