Poet helps ease passing of pets with final word in cemeteries
HANOI, Vietnam — Strolling along a bamboo-lined path between a five-star hotel for dogs and cats and Vietnam’s unique pet cemetery, a man in his late seventies was nodding as if reciting poems or composing prose.
That’s not surprising as the man is Nguyen Bao Sinh, who has written around 3,000 poems. He is also the owner of the complex.
Built on an area of 100 square meters, the five-story hotel, officially named Bao Sinh Cat Dog Resort, offers five-star facilities and services, including air-conditioned rooms, massages and “karaoke” lounges.
“I have been married twice. Both of my wives looked like beauty queens. My land, buildings and money to raise my kids properly has all come from dogs,” said Sinh.
Next to the hotel is a large and well-known cemetery full of small tombs packed with incense burners and surrounded by golden bamboo and flowers.
“I assume that in my previous life, I must have owned these animals or treated them cruelly, so I have to repay them or make it up to them in this life,” said Sinh, who is better known for his artistic work as a poet and painter than a grave-tender.
The cemetery was opened in 2000, the same time as the pet hotel service started.
Sinh said the facility is used by locals and foreigners, but cultural differences can create unusual situations.
“One day, a foreigner came here by taxi. Seeing the Westerner cry while carrying a big box, the taxi driver thought that he could be a murderer, so he called the police. On opening up the box, they didn’t find a human corpse, but a dead dog,” Sinh said.
Pet owners pay 7-8 million Vietnamese dong ($310-354) according to the size of the plot. The cost includes the expenses of daily veneration, care of the graves and an annual requiem ceremony.
“I met difficulties at first when trying to find monks to conduct the rite as many of them refused to do it as they found it unacceptable to conduct a requiem ritual, which is commonly held for people, not animals. But finally, I met some senior monks who understood Buddhist theory better and they agreed to help me,” said Sinh.
A woman named Thu Trang who was attending a ceremony said: “If Mr Sinh hadn’t opened this pet cemetery, I would have had to bury my beloved dog somewhere without the proper rites. Lying here, my dog can enjoy annual requiem ceremonies and I sometimes visit its tomb.”
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