Friday, August 22, 2008

Vietnam, Sugar Land Style

Quan Am, Framed 2
Sugar Land (so named for the Imperial Sugar refinery from whose company town grew the existing city) is a fairly affluent suburb directly southwest of Houston. Its agrarian roots have all but been expunged as it transformed from sleepy sugar mill town to one of the fastest growing areas in the county/state/country. It is now primarily a mix of master planned developments and tree lined boulevards. This is Tom Delay country, if that says anything.

However, the demographics of Sugar Land are bizarrely diverse, including a fairly large and thriving southeast Asian population. (particularly Vietnamese and Indian/Pakistani communities) This has lead to equally bizarre but fascinating cultural juxtapositions.

To the north of Sugar Land is a strip of land between the City limits and the city limits of Houston. It is in the "extraterritorial jurisdiction" ( a vague developmental quasi jurisidctional area on the outskirts of a municipality) of Houston and/or unincorporated county. That means all the draconian development codes of Sugar Land do not apply. In this strip of land are a hodge-podge of metalwork shops, used car parts lots, ramshackle Mexican churches, barren lots, and, with increasing frequency, temples and religious centers of all manner and variety.

There are, within only several hundred feet, two vietnamese buddhist centers, a muslim center, and other assorted and as-of yet-unidentified-sects' facilities. Driving between golden mosque domes and Buddhist stautary is is almost as if someone had cut and paste temple grounds from a dozen different countries with neither rhyme nor reason.

The most impressive is the Vietnamese Buddhist center whose impressive grounds include, among other things, a 72 foot tall statue of the Quan Am, a Buddhist (deity?). Regardless of one's religous leanings, it is nothing short of inspiring to find such elegant beauty amidst what is essentially a wasteland of sprawl.

Click on the Images below to see Full Size Versions
Quan Am with Lion Statue

Quan Am, Framed (B&W)

Statue of Quan Am

Quan Am with Lion Statue

Statue of Quan Am, framed 3

(color version of a previous shot)
Quan Am, Framed

No comments: