01/23/11

After settling in and spending a few days just getting a feel for the ebb and flow of the city, it was time to really begin. The first place I needed to see was the temple of Hermes.

Prominently located right in the middle of the forum, the temple of Hermes is a busy, loud place. You have to fight your way past hawkers, lucky merchants who were able to set up shop close to the entrance. Decidedly unlike the Christain story of Jesus of Nazareth's angry display at the temple, this temple is a den of thieves. Hermes, after all, is a god of messengers, merchants, and thieves.

Inside, it's all overt displays of wealth. The priests are all adorned in exotic finery, and clearly well-fed. Many of them come from wealthy merchant families, or I imagine are retired merchants themselves. Where elsewhere such displays would be a sign of a corrupt church, here they signify a thriving faith.


I don't stay long, however. I will have plenty of time during the coming year to study the architecture, religion and culture here. For now, I'm a tourist. I want to see as much as I can, get comfortable with the city.

For lunch, I stop at a small restaurant in the forum (chosen largely by the price of the menu; I am on a pretty tight budget). It appears to be some "fusion" place, Indo-Chino-Eurpoean or some combination. It's fantastic. Often, places like this try to hard to be creative, and while they may understand each cooking style individually, don't follow through or really understand how to blend them. Here, however, everything seems effortless, as if each dish was from a recipe that's been in the family for generations.

I tip well. It leaves me low on cash for the rest of the month, but it's worth it.