The Cao Đài Temple is a 2-3-hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. To get there, we opted to take a tour bus and include a visit to the nearby Củ Chi tunnels left over from the Vietnam War. The bus was pleasant enough and had the added benefit of a local tour guide who was both funny and knowledgeable—worth the extra 20k dong (about $1).
The temple itself is housed in a vastly expansive complex. In an area that had once been covered in a thick density of jungle, the concrete of the complex now only seemed to amplify the heat of the sun and the sound of the cicadas and bugs still clinging to what little patches of jungle foliage remained. The sound, to me, felt enormous. I have heard cicadas in the summer and fall of the Midwest, but this was that sound 100 times over. One hundred yards away from the temple, standing at the edge of a small patch of foliage—remnants of the jungle that could have been—I closed my eyes and listened to the sound, imagining if I were in the thick of it, surrounded by jungle instead of concrete. The sound felt like it was growing around me, louder and louder, until I was pulled back to reality by a pair of tourists that had meandered over, swapping travel stories with each other.