National Geographic : 1961 Oct
National Geographic, October, 1961 French thought the rebels were trapped and closed in. Then the rebels closed in on the French. Now this area is infested with Viet Cong. At night they hold drills in the villages, and meetings with Communist self-criticism." This was the dry season, and some of the rice fields we passed were idle. Others, wa tered from wells, sprouted their second crops - corn, tobacco, flowers. Plantation Payrolls Come by Plane Trees abounded - cashew, mango, kapok, coconut. Thousands of rubber trees stood in rows as neat as the gardens of Versailles. Rubber is still a major export, and the French plantation managers still have their swim ming pools and tennis courts. Payrolls come by plane now. "I don't land, I drop the money," a pilot told me. "If there's an ambush, at least they don't get the plane." Tay Ninh, the holy city of the Cao Dai sect, was celebrating its annual Day of the Creator (page 464). An American in Saigon Joss sticks held aloft, a supplicant marks the New Year by bowing before an incense burner outside the Temple of Marshal Le Van Duvet in Saigon. After reciting her prayers, she will place the smoking wands in the tray. had said: "They'll make saints out of Winston Churchill and Danny Kaye." Cardinal Truong Van Trang was not amused. "Such things are spread to discredit us. Why don't people come here and ask us?" I lunched, strictly vegetarian, with the car dinal and a lady archbishop. "We call the Creator Cao Dai," he said. "We did not pro duce a new religion; there are too many al ready. We took the best of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. In our temple you will also find a likeness of Jesus. "We believe that we receive messages from the Creator and from great spirits of the past. Victor Hugo is one. We honor him as an apostle, because he wrote with true compas sion for mankind. It matters little how a mes sage comes. What it says matters." At midnight the acting superior gave a ser mon. He spoke of "spiritual cleanliness." He urged people not to be afraid to be poor, and to be kind to each other. The following day the Viet Cong cut the road near the rubber plantation, just after we Spirals of burning incense thread the fra grant gloom of a Chinese pagoda in the Cho Lon section. Each coil smolders for several days. Most Vietnamese observe a potpourri of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.