Probably my first real introduction to Buddhism was through the popular devotion to Kwan Yin I witnessed while travelling through Vietnam and Taiwan. One comes across her image everywhere in those countries, and I soon found myself fascinated by her and all of the qualities she manifested. To my, at that time ignorant, mind she reminded me of all the very best in popular Marian worship and the very sight of a statue of Kwan Yin stirred up all of my own mystical and spiritual instincts.
In Vietnam she is worshipped as 'The Gentle Mother', and during the Ullambana festival she is revered and celebrated. There are popular shrines to her scattered throughout the country, many of them credited with miraculous powers.
One of my favourite places in the world is the ugly little port city of Keelung in Taiwan, just a short train ride away from Taipei. I've spent many hours there climbing all over the holy mountain there dedicated to Kwan Yin, and featuring at its peak one of those enormous Disney-esque statues of the Bodhisattva, replete with gift shop and vegetarian restaurant.
Right near my house is a beautiful Kwan Yin temple built by Indo-Chinese boat people to thank the Goddess for protecting them on the high seas while they were refugees. I go there whenever I can and offer my prayers to the Great Compassionate Kwan Yin.