Monday, March 5, 2012

Vietnam - My Son (me sun)

I was picked up at 8 am for my $7 tour. The bus was not great but considering the price it was dirty but adequate especially since it had air conditioning for the 1.5 hour journey inland to My Son.
When we arrived and got out of the bus it was smoking hot (about 35 degrees). By the time we finished the two hour tour 'sweating like a pig' had a whole new meaning - I felt like I had just stepped out of the shower but i was not as fresh!
The first thing we saw at the site were two american jeeps that had been abandoned at the danang airport when the americans evacuated vietnam. Apparently they are still in working order.
The next thing our tour guide showed us was a bucket with lizards - how nice. He wanted us to know we might see these little creatures around the ruins and not to be alarmed. SURE easy for him to say!
My Son is another UNESCO world heritage site where clusters of abandoned and partially ruined hindu temples and tombs are located. The 70 different structures were constructed between the 4th and 14th century by the Champ people.
The area is surrounded by mountains and on the other side of one of the mountains is the famous ho chi Minh trail (those of you old enough will remember this from the Vietnam war).
The Vietnamese people did not know about these ruins until the late 1800's as they were in the jungle and totally covered. It was a French archeologist that found them. You will notice missing heads on statues - this is because the French took the heads back to France and they are now in the Louvre in Paris (guess I will have to go and take a look). They did not take the entire statue - too heavy to transport.
These structures are amazing because they are so large and were built of brick without using any cement or mortar. To this day no one can figure out how this was done so some of the restoration work is being done with cement and mortar. UNESCO along with the Italians and Vietnamese are continuing to work on the restoration of this site.
The ruins suffered major damage during the Vietnam war as this was a hiding place for the viet cong and the Americans carpet bombed this area in the early 70's. One of the pictures that looks like a hole with water is where a b52 bomb landed.
Back on the bus (thank the heavens for air conditioning) for the hour long drive to the riverboat on the Bon river back to Hoi An.
Walking to the riverboat seemed to me were trespassing through backyards and then we reached the riverbank with a little dirt bank which we had to walk down to get on to the skeptical looking riverboat. Oh I should mention they put out a ladder of sorts for us to walk on from the riverbank to the boat but when they were setting it up one of the rungs broke- after all this is no luxury cruise!
On board there was a vegetarian lunch of rice and vegetables set up for us on mini metal tables. Yes we all ate as we were starving. The cruise down the river was an opportunity for some great picture taking of the various villages, rice paddies and mountains.
Before reaching Hoi An we stopped at a village that specializes in boat building and wood crafting. It was very interesting to watch these people work with the most primitive tools and make such beautiful works of art. I only wish I could have purchased a small piece but you are not allowed to take wood products into Australia. As you can see they provided a very unsteady plastic chair for us to get off and on the boat. It is no wonder when getting back on the boat one of the men on our tour ended up falling in the water between the boat and the dock. There were a few scary minutes when he was under the dock and three guys were trying to get him out of the water as no one wanted to dive into this water - as everything gets dumped into this water. Once he was out and unharmed the biggest concern was having him rinse out his mouth with clean water and then of course drying out his cellphone. All said and done it was a great day and extremely interesting.
I got back to the hotel with just enough time to shower and change before Do (my new Vietnamese friend) and dan were to pick me up and then we caught taxi out to Do's sister-in-laws restaurant on the beach. Do wanted to treat Dan and I to a seafood dinner. We had prawns, squid, clams and sweet and sour soup. It was all delicious and the view was fabulous - this is truly a magnificent setting. Thank you Do for a wonderful dinner. Then it was off to the river for happy hour and a few drinks. I gave Do and Dan a couple of Canadian Olympic hats and they had fun clowning around taking pictures. Do took me home on his motorbike (I know I should be wearing a helmet but I hate helmet head).
This morning I met Do and Dan for coffee at 7am to say goodbye - Dan convinced me we should go for some street soup for breakfast - so there I was 8am in the morning eating beef curry soup and a wonderful warm baguette on the street in Vietnam. Does life get any better than this????
Off to ho chi Minh city. . .

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