February 23rd, 2006 – by: Stormcrow
Open air breakfast with a steady drizzle in the background.
Today we get up at 6 a.m. and, shortly after, we are having breakfast out in the open. Well, sort of. The hotel restaurant does have a roof, but there is no wall on the river side, so it really feels like being outdoors. We share a table with Caroline again, and time flies when the atmosphere is right, so before we know it it\'s time to leave for My Son
Because the whole group is coming along we have to go by touring car. No way 15 adults can be cramped into a mini-van (although in Indonesia eight or nine fit in effortlessly) and renting two of those is simply more expensive than using the touring car.
Ms. Hoa, our guide for today, makes a brilliant first impression by leaving her "guide permit" behind in the hotel, causing a delay of about fifteen minutes.
Arrival at the My Son site.
The ride to My Son takes about an hour, but this isn't long enough for the weather to make a full recovery. It rained during the night and every now and then it still drizzles a bit.
After arriving at My Son Ms. Hoa buys the entrance tickets for the entire group, after which a mini-van and a jeep take (Trudy and I ride the jeep) us to a pavilion near the actual site. This is where we get a map of the My Son site and we get a first explanation, during which a firm rain shower prevents the surroundings from getting too dusty (ahem). Caroline is kind of distracted by a skin-and-bone dog, who is very grateful for the tiny handful of dry cat food she is feeding him.
My Son is a cluster of abandoned and mostly ruined Hindu temples, built by the kings of Champa, between the 4th and 14th century.
Lots of ruins unfortunately...
Many royals and heroes of the Cham were buried here. Historically it is a very important site, because of the many stele with their inscriptions in Sanskrit and Cham. It is the Vietnamese counterpart of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar, but it is my humble opinion that the other two (especially Angkor) are more impressive. Probably because of many of the, originally, 70 temples being destroyed in the Vietnam War. A thousand years of constructing undone within one week of carpet bombing...
Before starting our discovery of the site we buy a couple of rain capes, because we don't feel like getting soaking wet.
After too short a time of looking around our guide starts yapping about following her to some show: "My group, follow me to the show, please!".
...but still lots to see!
Trudy and I are in no way in a hurry and the others in our group don't look like they're very eager either. When she keeps nagging we follow her after all, but after two songs Trudy and I are off again. It is so obvious that the sole purpose of the show is to entertain tourists that aren't interested in architecture. Everything is fake, even the musicians are pretending to play their instruments!
We leave the show earlier than the rest of our group, so we've got some time to look around in our own pace. We usually need more time, because we also want to look at the finer details. When the show ends and the guided tour continues we join the group again, we don't want the knowledge of the guide to go to waste. Unfortunately her English average at best and her voice gets on my nerves, too. What a man must endure to become a little wiser ;)
After the tour there is some time to visit the small museum and then, at about 11.30 a.m. we get on the bus again to drive back to Hoi An.
About an hour later we arrive at the hotel, chuck our gear in our room, and walk into town immediately to get some lunch. We take the umbrella hanging around in our room, because it is still raining, but after five or so minutes the rain stops and the umbrella becomes just another object to shlep around, because it won't rain another drop.
After lunch we go shopping, and shopping, and then some more shopping. At four o'clock I'm so sick and tired of it that I hand over my wallet to Trudy, wish the ladies a lot of luck on their endeavors, and walk back to the hotel to work on my travel blog. I don't have enough time to finish it completely, because it is 18.30 a lot sooner than I expected, and then I have to go to Michel's briefing about tomorrow's program.
Trudy is happy with the stuff she bought (clothing mainly) this afternoon, so all efforts haven't been in vain.
At half past seven we head back into town again, looking for some dinner. But first we want to buy an extra suitcase, which takes some time (there's simply too much choice), but eventually we succeed. Next stop: picking up the kimono I ordered earlier and that is supposed to be ready by now. And it is! A dragon is embroidered on the back (I have always felt connected to this mythical creature somehow), and the Chinese symbols for snake and tiger (I was born in the year of the tiger) on the front.
Eventually we have a very nice dinner at the Mermaid Restaurant, where we stay until around ten and then we go back to the hotel to get some shut-eye.