Vietnam: Beautiful Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh

We had never heard of Cao Dai Temple until we bought our tour tickets to Cu Chi Tunnels. So we goggle searched it right away and when we looked at the pictures we became curious and decided to visit the place. Personally, this is one of the reasons why I love traveling – I get to discover cultures and customs that are so different from what I accustomed to.

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Daiism is a relatively recent religion that is unique to Vietnam as it is a new fusion religion combining other religious groups including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. It focuses on moral and ethical practices such as prayer, nonviolence, honoring of forefathers, etc. I have also learned that  Victor Hugo (a French writer), Confucius, Joan of Arc, and Sun Yat-Sen (the Chinese republican hero from 20th century) are among their revered saints.

Inside Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple

This Cao Dai Temple is located 90 km away from Ho Chi Minh City (about 2 hours by bus from the city centre), in a typical Vietnamese provincial city, Tay Ninh. Cao Daiism was founded in 1926 in Vietnam and has about 6 million followers.

Beautiful garden.

One of the statues in the garden.

We arrived in the place just in time to witness and enjoy the main service at midday. The temple is amazing. We stood on the balcony on the 2nd floor and looked at the service from above since only priests and pilgrims (majority were elderly people) were allowed in the service area. I noticed that Cao Dai priests wore a robe in three principal colors of Cao Dai: Red for Christianity, Blue for Taoism and Yellow for Buddhism while the pilgrims wore white. Indeed, the ceremony was nice to see.

Cao Dai service at midday

Furthermore, I loved the bright lively colors of the Temple’s exterior and especially the extravagantly decorated interior. I like the symbols, images of saints and abstract designs. The floor tiles have busy patterns and the high ceiling is painted sky-blue. I have learned that their most important symbol is the Divine Eye, which represents that God witnesses everything everywhere.

Divine Eye, the most important symbol of Cao Daiism.

Divine Eye, the most important symbol of Cao Daiism.

Divine Eye, the most important symbol of Cao Daiism.

This lavish and spectacular temple of Cao Dai Religion attracts thousands of pilgrims, believers, and tourists who come to experience this wonderful service and interiors. Certainly, it was an awesome visit and well worth the journey.

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The visitors are asked to come modestly dressed.

Have you been to Cao Dai Temple? What did you like best there?

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Family Fun in Manila Ocean Park

The Philippines is one of the coral-rich countries in the world. In fact, in the Philippines, you can find Apo Reef in Mindoro Strait, which is known as the second largest contiguous coral reef system in the world and the largest coral reef system in the country. You can also find there the Tubataha Reefs Natural Park in Sulu Sea, which was designated as a World Heritage Site in December 1993 as it contains a very high density of different extremely gorgeous marine species.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

On top of this, we were lucky enough to witness these stunning and extraterrestrial coral gardens and sea creatures, even though my parents and son do not know how to snorkel or scuba dive, because Manila Ocean Park has a good facility that enables people to have a glimpse of the reefs and ocean inhabitants without getting their feet wet.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

So, on our 2nd day in Manila, I brought my family to this place which features aquariums and exhibits of about 14,000 sea animals from 277 indigenous species in the Philippines and in the Southeast Asia. I bought a package for Php 580 per person that includes 6 attractions: Oceanarium, Back of the House, Jellies Exhibit, Sharks and Rays Encounter, and Sea Lion Show.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

We first went to the Oceanarium and we adored all the collection of marine creatures and corals displayed there. They were all beautiful – from a series of tanks filled with a ton of colorful fishes to the Plexiglas filled with small sharks, small mantas, skates, moray eels and a lot more.

Papa and Mama having fun in the Oceanarium. 🙂

My son exploring the Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

The Jellies Exhibit was quite exciting and very pretty. We were mesmerized by all the various species of jellyfish dancing to mellow music, the changing colors in their water tanks, all the mirrors which makes it appear like there is an endless number of jellyfish tanks, and the cool display of multi-media effects.

The Jellies Exhibit

The Jellies Exhibit

Furthermore, my son was also fascinated by an up close and personal encounter of sharks and stingrays. Plus, we were able to touch the stingrays which had velvet-y feel and the shark which had a sandpaper feel.

Shark and Stingrays Encounter

The Manila Ocean Park

The last activity we enjoyed was the sea lion show. It was a fantastic show and we enjoyed every minute of it. There, we met the Sea Lions from South America that were adorably trained to do some tricks like balancing and kissing.  The audience had the chance to participate and get a chance to kiss with a souvenir photo. We were also impressed as the trainers gave us informative talk – what sea lions are, its special skills and unique characteristics, what they are capable of, and valuable information on environmental conservation. We were all smiling the whole time.

Sea Lion Show

Undeniably, Manila Ocean Park offers a good day out for family or a group of friends or for lovers of the sea to get a good overview of the marine biodiversity.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The best time to go there is during the week day as it is not crowded and the queue at the ticket counter is shorter than on the weekend.

What did you enjoy the most in Manila Ocean Park? Do share your experience.

 

 

Taste of Home: Cheesy Potato Sausage Casserole

Potatoes, meat and cheese is a delectable combination that everyone in my family loves. It’s easy yet makes a hearty meal especially for a busy day.

This simple casserole is perfect for a side dish or main dish. And, in a small gathering of family or friends, this can be a sure crowd pleaser potluck dish that everyone would enjoy. Furthermore, I love the leftover as it is just as delightful when it’s eaten fresh.

cheesy potato and sausage casserole

For those who have wanted to learn to love casserole and for those who loves the simplicity of an all-in-one-dish, this cheesy potato and sausage casserole is a gorgeous dish for you.

Ingredients for 6 persons:

  • 6 pieces of potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
  • 500 grams of Italian sausage, chopped
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 medium size red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 gloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley, finely chopped
  • 50 grams of salted butter, melted
  • 200 grams of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 20 cL fresh light cream
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

cheesy potato and sausage casserole

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C while preparing the mashed potatoes and sausage mixture.
  2. Put olive oil in a large skillet. Put in the Italian sausage and stir. After 5 minutes, add onion, red bell pepper, garlic and freshly cut black pepper. Stir. Let it cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then set aside.
  3. Put the mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, fresh cream, milk and 150 grams of cheese. Stir and mix thoroughly.
  4. When the mashed potato mixture is ready, put in the sausage mixture. Then mix it thoroughly.
  5. In an oven dish, put the potato and sausage mixture and spread evenly using a spatula. Then sprinkle the rest (50 grams) of the cheese on top of the mixture evenly. Lastly, spread some parsley on top of the cheese.
  6. Put the potato and sausage casserole into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 200°C.
  7. Let it stand for 10 minutes after you take it out from the oven before letting everybody help themselves.