Saturday, November 22nd, 2003 – Day 277

Saturday, November 22nd, 2003 – Day 277

We arrived at 6.00am in the morning. The bus (Sinh Cafe mafia) brough us to two hotels for viewing. The first hotel was too far from town. There are lots of hotels in Hoi An and its LOW season here. Even so i decided to stay in the second hotel called the HOANG TRINH Hotel. Its brand new and I go a big room for 6 USD. It has 2 big beds, satelite TV, hot water.

It was 6.00am. I was shattered but awakke. I decided to rest, watch BBC and go on a 8.30am tour to My Son. I walked down to the Sinh Cafe branch and pid my 2 USD. What cheap is that for the one hour and thirty minute bus journey there, a guided tour and return trip. I bought a few bread rolls accross the street for brekfast and the journey.

My Son, 71km (44 miles) outside of Danang, is one of the most important Cham temple sites, established in the late 4th century. The temples were constructed as a religious center for citizens of the Cham capital, Danang, from the 7th through 12th centuries. My Son might also have been used as a burial site for Cham kings after cremation. Originally, there were over 70 towers and monuments here, but bombing during the American war (the Viet Cong used My Son as a munitions warehouse) has sadly reduced many to rubble. Additionally, many of the smaller structures have been removed to the Cham Museum in Danang. The complex has a very serene and spiritual setting, however, and what does remain is powerful and evocative. It’s not hard to imagine what a wonder My Son must once have been.

Much of what remains today are structures built or renovated during the 10th century, when the cult of Shiva, founder and protector of the kingdom, was predominant in the Cham court. Each group had at least the following structures: a kalan, or main tower; a gate tower in front of that, with two entrances; a mandapa, or meditation hall; and a repository building for offerings. Some have towers sheltering stelae with kingly epitaphs. A brick wall encircles the compound.

Architecturally, a temple complex shows Indian influences. Each is a microcosm of the world. The foundations are Earth, the square bases are the temple itself, and the pointed roofs symbolize the heavens. The entrance of the main tower faces east, and surrounding smaller towers represent each continent. A trench, representing the oceans, surrounds each group. Vietnamese architecture is represented in decorative patterns and boat-shape roofs.

Group A originally had 13 towers. A-1, the main tower, was a 20.7m-tall (69-ft.-tall) masterpiece before it was destroyed in 1969. Group B shows influences from Indian and Indonesian art. Note that B-6 holds a water repository for statue-washing ceremonies. Its roof is carved with an image of the god Vishnu sitting beneath a 13-headed snake god, or naga. Group C generally followed an earlier architectural style called Hoa Lai, which predominated from the 8th century to the beginning of the 9th. Groups G and H were the last to be built, at around the end of the 13th century.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Nha Hoi An – My Son (22-11-2003)

Entrance to the site is 50,000 Dong. I was VERY disapointed. I expected some thing on a par with my visits to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Borobudur Temple or the Prambanan Temples in Indonesia.

It rained all the way there, but there were good views of peopel working in the fields. We arrived at 10.00am. It was lashing rain, no-stop, torrential stuff. I had brough my poncho with me although local sellers had a field day, seeling ones for five times the local price. I had bought mine for 3,000 Dong. they were now selling for 15,000 Dong. Our guide you had OK English told us a little about the site. For two hours we brought us around the different Cham Towers and explained a little about them. Maybe its better for purists that thay ahve not been restored, but for normal tourists, you would need a great imagination to undestand the importance of the site. The towers were in ruins, the ground over grown, it was raining and I was bored.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Hoi An (22-11-2003)

I was happy to return at 12.15pm. It was 1.40pm when we arrived back in town. Still for 2 USD transport and 50,000 Dong (2.78 Euro) entrance, I can not complain.

I decided to discover Hio An before the Rugby World Cup Final started. I walked around a bit and had a nice dinner.

If you go, Hoi An will be one of the highlights of your Vietnam visit. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, Hoi An was Vietnam’s most important port and trading post, particularly in ceramics. Today it is a quaint old town (844 structures have been designated historical landmarks) still showing the influences of the Chinese and Japanese traders who passed through and settled here. Moreover, it’s small enough to cover easily on foot; you can wander through the historic homes and temples on a quiet Saturday afternoon, perhaps stop to lounge in an open-air cafe, gaze at the endless oddities and exotic foods in the market, or take a sampan ride down the lazy river. In the afternoons when school is out, the streets are thronged with skipping children in spotless white shirts. While the city is eagerly courting tourism and your tourist dollars — meaning there’re plenty of pesky vendors and hawkers — it’s still relatively low-key and genuinely friendly.

On the full moon of every month, local shop owners turn off the electricity and hang lanterns bearing their shop’s name, and a candlelight lantern procession, complete with a few small floats, makes its way through the Old Town and along the riverfront. It’s well worth timing a visit to enjoy the spectacle and the post-processional festivities.

I watched the England V Australia Rugby World Final. It was exciting and found it hard to watch in Extra time. i hate saying it but in the final analysia England deserved to win.

I walked down towna nd met a Canadian who was on my bus last night. We had cofee and a chat. He was as gay as Christmas and was a soft touch for the street kids. They must thing i am a hard case (I am when it comes to begging) because they left me be. at the end of the night he had purchased overpriced cigarrettes, and souveniors. Still he was a film buff and shared some favourite films, although Jodie Foster (i think shes crap) was his favourite actress. He had finished his degree in Politics and had a keen interest in South East Asia. He had learnt Chinese over the past two years and and was travelling to China to learn Chinese and teach English for two years. Hell of a long time.

I watched the Tailor of Panama (2001) with Pierce Brosnan on TV before falling asleep. It was a good movie.