Today we had a tour booked for a visit to My Son, a temple complex situated not too far away from Hoi An but today the weather had decided to take a bit of a turn for the worst so we armed ourselves with all the rainy-weather gear we could muster and awaited being collected from our hotel. First off we were picked up by a minibus which then proceeded to take us all around the houses until we eventually arrived at what seemed like just a waste patch of ground where we were then picked up by a small coach – they sure have some strange ways of doing things out here but it generally works out alright.
Our guide on the bus was a smallish, thin Vietnamese guy but what he lost in stature he more than made up for in other departments as he was quite a larger-than-life character, quite a funny fellow really but also very passionate and very knowledgeable as well of his subject matter, so a really good mix. On the journey to My Son there were also some very nice people on the bus as well, in particular an Irish couple who had emigrated to Australia and an older Vietnamese guy and his family, his son was Australian too. It was nice chatting to both sets of people as we drove from the town to the temple area. The Vietnamese guy had emigrated to Oz when he was younger but still kept in touch with his family back in Vietnam and some of them were on the bus with him but could speak no English but they were all really nice people.
My Son was the religious and political centre for the Champa kingdom and its buildings date from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The temples within the complex look really cool as they were all built from red bricks and yet held together using no cement at all which I thought to be really quite a feat of engineering. The bricks do not grow mould either and even scientists today have no real way of understanding how this is possible! In its heyday it was comprised of seventy buildings but due to it being bombed heavily during the war with America there are now only twenty or so left but there are some very nice craters to go with them. The guide would explain about a section of the complex and then we would all have chance to go and have a look around it on our own. All during the visit there were times when it would absolutely bucket it down with rain and then we would all have to jump into our ponchos and the like, then it would stop and heat up and all the rain gear would need to come off but these events did not stop it from being a really good trip. On some parts there was some restoration work being undertaken as well so it will probably look even better as this gets completed. There were a lot of the phallic statues (lingam) about the place too which our guide had great fun describing to us – this brought a twinkle to his eyes.
Getting to My Son had been by the bus but the way back would be via the river and on the boat we were to have lunch. This when we got it was not that great, especially by the high Vietnamese standards we had received so far. Even the view of the river was somewhat grey to match our moods after the food. Along the way back we stopped off at a wood carvers to have the chance to buy something … what a surprise eh! Some of the ‘art’ was impossibly big too, not so much buying the stuff you could have actually lived in some of the items that were on sale.
We were dropped off back at Hoi An and once again had a little bit of a scootch round and a couple of beers whilst we were drying off before heading off back to the hotel for a bit of an afternoon siesta. Just before we set out on the night though the weather which had until that point been merely bad, upgraded to seriously wet on our way to the restaurant. We almost had to swim up the street it was that bad, so bad in fact that we ended up in the first place that we saw that looked warm inside.
However, fortunately for us the food at the place was excellent, possibly only the best ever duck that I had tasted and that was what Liz was having – which would have made it difficult to eat my pork if mine had not been excellent as well. By the end of the night we had had such a wonderful meal that we decided to book a cookery class for tomorrow with the chef.