My Son SanctuaryJuly 8 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 37 °C
My Son (pronounced Mee Sern) is an important Hindu religious sanctuary that sits about an hour outside of Hoi An. It's a very popular day-trip, mainly because the ruins are quite impressive. While booking our bus back to Hue for tomorrow, we noticed that the same company offered a "sunrise tour" of My Son, which we ended up booking instead.
Mainly because it got us there and back early in the morning before the heat really kicked in, but also because My Son can get very crowded with day-trippers and most of those don't arrive until around 10am. So by getting in super-early, we could get great photos without anyone in them.
So that's what we did! Among the last to get picked up, and the bus wasn't super comfortable as the air con wasn't really working, but it was fine to put up with for an hour. Although billed as a "sunrise" tour, the sun was well and truly up by the time we got there.
The ruins themselves are quite impressive. It was built as the main religious sanctuary of the Champa Kingdom, which ruled a lot of Laos and southern Vietnam for centuries. They were a Hindu kingdom, so of course all of the design, layout, iconography and architecture was Hindu - unusual in this Buddhist part of the world. As the Champa were pushed out of Vietnam by the Buddhist Viet people from the north, the Sanctuary fell into disuse and was eventually overtaken by the jungle again. Only rediscovered in 1898 by a group of French soldiers.
Originally there was about 160 buildings in the sanctuary - not all religious, but mostly for that purpose. Unfortunately, these days there's only a handful of buildings still standing after American B-52 carpet bombing raids. The site is still dotted with huge bomb craters, and you can see bullet holes in some of the stone walls as well. Our guide even showed me a photo on his phone of his grandmother's front door, which had a large bullet hole in it. Although they aren't angry about it these days, reminders of the war are never far away.
Back to the hotel by 9am, where we were in time for breakfast! Although we'd already had a simple provided breakfast on the tour, we tucked into the fairly good offerings at the hotel. Afterwards we retreated upstairs and dozed/used computers until the mid-afternoon. Ventured out for a banh mi, then retreated again as it was ridiculously hot.
In the evening we met up with a travel blogger couple who we'd been friends with for a few years - an Australian guy and his American fiancee. They've been living here in Hoi An for a few months as digital nomads. Spent the evening catching up with them over vegetarian food and beers which was quite nice - we'd last seen them in Manila almost three years ago.Read more