Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 25 - My Son Temple Complex and the Full Lunar Eclipse

Vietnam has it's own mini Angkor Wat... kind of. I took a tour bus just southwest of Hoi An to check out the My Son Temple Complex, most of which is under restoration due to the effects of U.S. bombings during the Vietnam War. The temples were not part of an ancient civilization like Angkor was, but was more used as temples for worship and offerings to the Gods. Because of this, the whole complex was walkable within an hour or so.

The temples are divided into 10 different groups, with a total of around 70 temples. Only about 20 of them are in good condition to visit, while the others are closed for restoration with the efforts of UNESCO. The temples were built by the Cham people, who I believe are from Indonesia and/or Malaysia. The dominant religion was Hinduism and most of the temples worship the god Shiva. Many of the towers are divided into three sections, where the bottom represented earth, the middle represented the spirtual world, and the top represented the realm between earth and heaven. Many of the structures were dominantly built with red brick, while a couple sections were build by stone.

On our way back from My Son, we took a boat tour down the river. I've been on so many boat tours now, that there isn't nothing really exciting about any of them anymore. I think the best one was the Can Tho Floating market tour, but all the other boat rides don't really have any significant activity occurring on the waters. On the way home, we stopped by a wood-carving village to see some of their creations. Then it started to pour on our way back to the dock. By that time, the tourguide told us we had to find our way back to our respective hotels, leaving us to fend for ourselves as we raced to the nearest shop to shelter ourselves from the water. One good tip to remember when booking a tour is to establish what type of transportation is included, as well as what is included in the price, whether it be admission to the various sites, or food/drink.

Bought a raincoat and walked home, which was different since I rarely got to see it rain in Vietnam. On the way back, I overheard another foreigner say that it was the full moon tonight and there would be festivities in the city. I headed back to the village at night and saw that there were plenty of street vendors selling lanterns to float along the river at night. I feel pretty blessed to be at the right place at the right time. First, it was the Beach Festival in Nha Trang, and now, the full moon festival in Hoi An!

It was a beautiful scene to see both Vietnamese and foreigners purchase these lanterns and drop them into the calm waters, seeing them float slowly down the river. A great way to end my stay in Hoi An before I head to Hue.

My Son - Group C monuments

My Son - Cham Statues

Restoration of some structures in Group H

Heavy rains were headed our way while on our boat

Wood Carving Village

More Cao Lau

I forgot what this was called, but it was rice flour noodles sandwiched between a hard cracker, and dipped in fish sauce.

Full Lunar Eclipse Festivities in Hoi An

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