Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Son Ruins

So to satiate Michael's desire to visit places around Da Nang before it starts to rain, we planned to go visit My Son this past Saturday with our lovely lady French friends Marie and Geraldine. Sadly, Geraldine's sweetheart Xavier, another good friend, was working and couldn't join us - but we got some fun pics for him! My Son is described as a "Holy Land" as it is where the ancient peoples of Southeast Asia, called the Cham, built a lot of temples. Another place that is more well known is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Sadly, many of the remaining ruins were destroyed during the Vietnam War, but the ones that were remaining were pretty cool anyway.

My Son is about 60-62 Kilometers Southwest of Da Nang, and when you go maybe 40 km/hr on a motorbike it is slow going. Very slow going. Add to that the poorly marked streets and construction in some parts and it took us about 2hrs to get there, maybe a tad bit more. I had a really sore bum to say the least.

One of the highlights of the trip was driving through the small towns on the way to My Son, one in particular was very neat as they must produce a lot of corn and what looked like soy beans there. Almost every home had at least one, if not 2 or 3, tarps laid out on the ground in the sun, covered in either corn on the cob, corn off the cob, just corn cobs, or something pale green that looked like soy beans to me.

When we finally got to My Son, they had a lovely little museum where you could learn about the dates the buildings were constructed and some information about the Cham people, where and how they lived. I also had the lovely opportunity to experience my first squat-style toilet there, at least the facility was clean and had a working sink, but it was quite the new experience for me nonetheless. After the bathroom we drove another kilometer or so up a very bumpy cobbled road - also a different experience - to where we could park our bikes and then hike another 1-2 kilometers to the ruins. It was a long walk in the crazy heat.
I can't get the photos to align according to time without doing a lot of crazy shuffling, so here are photos in no particular order and I will tell you about them as they go:

Photo of the side of one of the temples, very beautiful carvings were everywhere, and still visible after being built from the 4th to the 13th century according to UNESCO.
 Here's a photo of one of the courtyards, all of these buildings are small temples, which had the carvings on the sides and all over.
 One of my favorite parts was when Michael spotted this lovely lizard on the doorway of a temple - it looks kind of like an iguana but with one very unique trait - this is the color he was on the red brick of the temple and ...
 This is the color he was when he moved off of the red brick onto lighter brick - SO COOL! So maybe some kind of chameleon, I'm not sure. Needless to say I have maybe 10 photos of this guy at least - he did seem to like posing for me and Michael :)
 Here's a photo of one of the large stones covered in ancient writing. You may need to click on it and enlarge it to see the writing - our camera battery died shortly after we started our trip (I know, we're morons) so most of the photos were taken on our phones, so they aren't as large or detailed. But the writing was beautiful anyway - it reminded me of Thai writing a bit.
 After seeing the ruins we tried getting back to our bikes on a different trail - and kinda got lost. But the trees offered much needed shade and were really beautiful. Geraldine had brought some cookies luckily, as we hadn't stopped for lunch yet, and we had a great time eating them and talking about the weird differences between French and English - like how to pronounce "Spiderman" in either language :)

Here's Michael and me at the first ruins we came across. Sadly all that is left of this area is this one wall and a few pieces strewn all over the ground, but it was still neat.

This is one of the main temples in the large area of ruins, you can see how big this one is in this shot, but the inside is pretty small.

Michael and Marie in the museum, reading about the different types of statues inside the temples.

Here is the bridge you cross to go inside the park after going through the museum, it was pretty cool.

Here's a view of the main area of ruins from a distance, it was really beautiful with the rich greens and mist surrounding the mountains in the distance.

Here's the side view of the main temple Michael was standing next to a few photos back. I loved the carvings of the different deities on the sides (at least I think that is what they are). 

Here's Michael walking inside one of the temples. The inside was very cool and a bit dank, not to mention dark if the temple was still sealed, and surprisingly small due to the way they construct their buildings. The Cham used no cement in their building, they would simple arrange the bricks in a counter-balance pattern that would hold itself up without a bonding element.

Here's Michael in the rear courtyard. This place was cool as it had statues on either side, some were still fairly intact, the photo below is a close-up of the statue you can see on the right hand side of this photo.

It was a beautiful piece of sculpture, even if it was missing the head. Sadly, a lot of the statues were missing heads, I think they were taken and sold possibly or maybe destroyed by people who didn't support that religion, but I don't really know.

And lastly - we had to take a photo of Michael, he was sweating more than he has EVER before, even during summer. It was a lot hotter and more humid in My Son than in Da Nang recently, but still, it was weird. He was literally dripping wet, enjoy! 

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