Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Euless Doctor Visit Leads To Arlington's Vietnam Town's One Pillar Pagoda At Ben Thanh Plaza

Today was the day of my regularly scheduled return to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex mess.

The drive was pretty much uneventful both going and coming back. The I-35W re-build seems to be less annoying with each passing month.

After a short stop at a doctor's office in Euless I headed south with Arlington's Vietnam Town as my destination. I usually refer to this district as Arlington's Chinatown, but today I realized referring to this district as Arlington's Vietnam Town is more accurate, since the Vietnamese influence seems to be dominant, with other Asian entities also in the mix, entities such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, India, and, of course, China, along with others.

Earlier in this century my main to go place in what I then called Chinatown was an Asian grocery store near the intersection of New York Avenue and Pioneer Parkway. But, around the time of the Great Recession that main go to Asian grocery store went out of business.

A few years later the Saigon Cho Market came into existence, a short distance on Pioneer to the west.

So, today when I left that doctor's office in Euless I decided to head south to Arlington via 360, avoiding heading south on Collins or Cooper Street, with those street's extreme traffic woes and possible closures due to Arlington being the biggest town in America which can come to a standstill, vehicle movement-wise, when a train rolls through town.

Taking 360 to get to Pioneer Parkway had me driving by the location of that Asian grocery store which had closed during the Great Recession. As I drove by I was pleased to see that that Asian grocery store has risen  from the dead, and is back way better and bigger than before.

This multi-store, multi-building complex is now called Ben Thanh Plaza. This is a Vietnamese themed plaza, with Vietnamese flourishes spread throughout, including the parking lot.

Above you see the homage to the One Pillar Pagoda in front of the main entry to Ben Thanh Plaza.

The One Pillar Pagoda  has an informational plaque explaining the significance of the Pagoda. That information in its entirety....

This One Pillar Pagoda is one  of the most distinctive and unique architecture designs in Ben Thanh Plaza. It is a replica  of a historic iconic Temple in North Vietnam and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in VIETNAM. The original Pagoda was built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong (1028 - 1054) in  1049, with a unique architectural design by erecting a pillar in the middle of a lotus pond and is visualized as a blooming lotus. In 2012 One Pillar Pagoda has been recognized by the Asian Records Organization as having the more unique architecture in  Asia.

There is a lot of information available about the One Pillar Pagoda when one Google searches, including a Wikipedia article about One Pillar Pagoda.

When I snapped the photo you see above a semi-elderly man caught my attention to ask if I wanted him to take a picture of me and the Pagoda. I said no thank you. He then asked me if I would take a picture of him in front of the One Pillar Pagoda. After doing so I asked if he was Vietnamese, even though I already knew he was. He proceeded to tell me about the Pagoda and about the layout of Ben Thanh Plaza and how it symbolically represents North Vietnam, with the nod to Hanoi at the north end, and South Vietnam and Saigaon (also known as Ho Chi Minh City) at the south end.

When we finished chatting I was surprised to suddenly find my hand being vigorously shook with the Vietnamese man thanking me for being so kind.

I then walked through the main entry into the interior of Ben Thanh Plaza.

I was more than a little surprised to find that what used to be one giant store had been transformed into what seemed to be a mall. Inside the mall I came to that which you see above, the entry to Ben Thanh Central Market.

Ben Thanh Central Market is HUGE. Inside to the left I saw a big sign indicating "Farmers Market" To the right another big sign, this one indicating "Meat Market". The Farmers Market was the location of produce. You can  probably guess what was to be found in the Meat  Market.

At the back of the store is what looked to me to be a futuristic fish market. I should have taken a picture. It was all glassed in, with entry made via various doors allowing access the tanks of live seafood.

All in all I had myself a mighty fine time today in the D/FW zone. I think I will add returning to Arlington's Vietnam Town a regular part of my monthly visit...

No comments: