8 June 2014
I had only seen those big incense coils attached to the ceiling of temples in Hong Kong, not even in mainland China nor any of the other Chinese temples in southeast Asia or elsewhere in the world. They are said to slowly burn for an entire month. Just like most Chinese temples, this one in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) in Vietnam is very colourful, saturated with finely-chiselled ceramic sculptures and figurines, rows of what looks like halberds and offerings of all sorts (cans, flowers, fruits, money) overflowing on the altars.
On this photo, I wanted to recreate that enchanting atmosphere of colourful overwhelmingness. I had sat down a few moments, crushed by the heat, to soak in the smell of incense and the peacefulness of that little-visited temple. A few minutes later, I walked once more around the small temple and, without a tripod, took three consecutive shots with different exposures which I then merged together.
In light of the recent skirmishes between China and Vietnam, I’m not sure peace is currently at the forefront of people’s minds. But here’s a related quote credited to the Dalai Lama – with a slight provocation from my part considering the other territory issues in Tibet: “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness”.