Photographer's Note


I took this picture at Bến Đục Wharf — the boat station to Perfume Pagoda — just before leaving the location.

On the desk, I saw many stacks of VN$200.00 and I can read the sign in Vietnamese, "EXCHANGE MONEY OF SMALL DENOMINATIONS". Still, I don't understand. My curiosity prompted me to a quick interview:

"Good morning, Mom!"
"Good morning! You buy some money?"
"Well, I am on my way out to Hanoi. What are these 'can't-do-nothing' money for?"
"There are hundreds of God and Saints in the Perfume Pagoda complex that you don't want to spend the regular currency. Changing your large bill into these lowest denominations, with VN$20,000 (US$1.35) you can make your ceremonial offerings to a hundred of them."
"Then where the money goes, will the pagoda staffs burn them?"
"No, only pilgrims burn some of them. The staffs would recover and transport them to the Government's Bank to exchange back to large bills..."
"You meant the People's Bank?"
"No, people own everything — People's Army, People's Forestry, People's Committee, People's Police... — except just one organization: the bank."


Thanking the lady, I was walking to the bus station after a tip for her information. Here in the sacred pagoda, people practice the trick to Gods and Saints. There is a Vietnamese saying, "Có tiền mua tiên cũng được" (If you have enough money, you could buy fairies as well). I am not sure if this old millionaire could afford to buy her poverty...

God bless her!


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 125 N: 2331] (8456)
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