Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hoi An, Vietnam

My friend Douglas made it to Vietnam! He goes by the nickname YD - and since I go by Tiger, I can't judge the strangeness of anyone else's nickname.  He flew into Hanoi and took a 16 hour train to Da Nang, where we met up and took a taxi for $15 south to Hoi An and stopped by the Marble Mountains.

The Marble Mountains are 5 large upcroppings of limestone, riddled with caves and religious significance.  I didn't know what to expect, and the reality blew my mind! Around every corner was a small cave with carved buddhas that were once part of the rock itself, and many offerings and bats.  What a beautiful place :)
YD walking through one of the cave entrances

Offerings carved from the stone

Massive buddha in the background, also carved from the cave
 The next day in Hoi An, we visited the My Son Temple complex ~1 hour outside the city. It was built from 700-1200 AD, and was hidden from the 1600s-1900s when the French "rediscovered" the temple and began excavating. Of course, excavating really means that they took all the best artifacts for themselves and removed many statue heads and large ornaments to bring back to France, where some are in the Lourve.

And then, in the 1970s, American B52 bombers absolutely destroyed most of the structures because the Viet Cong was hiding among the temples, and we wanted to destroy their base. It's really sad now to see the result, and our guide was very clear to point out how Americans were disrespectful of the sanctity of the site and ruined it. In all other ways, our guide was AMAZING! He was hilarious and sounded like a dubbed kung fu movie star.

One of the ruins

One of the most complete temples still standing

Sanskrit writing - BEAUTIFUL!

This part really does resemble Angkor Wat

A male symbol - as our guide put it, "Same same but BIGGER!" Laughter ensued

Bomb casings recovered

Bomb crater still very much in evidence

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