Photos by Thuy Pham (Yale University), Student Correspondent CET Vietnam Summer 2019 During our on-site visit to District 13, we witnessed the daily lives of regular people and their living conditions. What stood out to me about the slum settlements was not the lack of durability against extreme climate conditions or the insufficient living space, it was the inadequate sanitation as a result of close proximity to the polluted river. Trash floated along the surface of the murky, brown river and the smell of feces intertwined with rotting food greeted us as we walked along the narrow streets To juxtapose our visit to the Hồ Chí Minh slums, we witnessed the splendid and extravagant skyscraper known as Landmark 81. Dubbed the tallest building in Vietnam, the grand spectacle stretched 1,513 feet tall and true to its name, has 81 stories. The coffee culture in Vietnam is an integral aspect of daily life. Before, during, and after work, people typically consume a cup of Vietnamese coffee – composed of dark roasted coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk. The Southern Women’s Museum did an exceptional job of capturing women’s clothes across the centuries – starting with the traditional loom to weave clothes depicted in the picture. It was quite eye-opening to see the roles women play in the history of Vietnam. The second floor of the museum showcased women involvement during the mobilization and period of the Vietnam war. From photographs to old relics to testimonies and biographies, we were speechless by these women’s display of strength and sacrifice. They were involved in active military and guerilla duty, acted as spies and communicators, stirred patriotism, and died as heroes. Absolutely moving and empowering. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre presented us with a work by Oanh Phi Phi called Interface. What is most dazzling about this immersive lacquered tunnel is that the material is both physically and viscerally dense. Walking through the piece, we embraced the relationship between light and movement – gazing as our presence lend a hand in the constantly changing landscape as the color gets refract from its layered lacquer depths. Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm is the largest Mahayana pagoda in Hồ Chí Minh City – acting as a center for Buddhist beliefs and practices. The complex is around 6,000 square meters, comprising of the pagoda, arrays of temples and statues, and a 25-meter-tall four-story tower behind the pagoda. Inside the pagoda, we witness hundreds of monks, nuns, and worshipers sitting on the floor barefoot in front of the Buddha statues and chanting. Built in 1760, the Thiên Hậu temple – a Chinese-style pagoda – represents a symbol of prosperity and health in a Chinatown in Hồ Chí Minh City. The interior of the temple depicts incense burners, a diorama of a 19th-century Chinese city, vivid depictions of goddess, demons, battles, and many more. Incense plays an irreplaceable part in all temples, religious ceremonies, and spiritual practices. The fragrance and smoke are said to purify the atmosphere and help people communicate with spiritual life. In addition to praying for good fortune and prosperity, visitors have the opportunity to write the names of their love ones on red, paper tokens and have them hung up on spiral incense. For the cheap price of 30,000 Vietnamese Đồng ($1.50), I’m praying for you mom and dad!