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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dec 10-13: Hoi An

Hoi An is a cute little town. Since it was in the area considered as the demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War, many of its buildings were spared from destruction. Especially in the older section of town, you can still see wonderful examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. These days the old buildings have been converted to tailor shops & lantern sellers, restaurants & bars. It's a great place to spend the afternoon people watching.

One day, I took a tour to My Son, a complex of Cham ruins about an hour away from town. During the bus ride to the site, our guide told us that his father was a member of the Viet Cong who had died on the front lines during the Vietnam War. Then he went on to explain that many of the structures at My Son had been destroyed by US bombing. "Why? Wrong information! Any Americans in the group?" No one answered.

When we got to the main gate of the complex, they took us the rest of the way to the ruins in US military jeeps. Our guide said that indeed these were authentic war-time vehicles that the Americans left as they were fleeing the country - Ha! Any Americans in the group?

As we toured the complex, our guide explained the unsual construction methods used by the Cham people, & pointed out that many of the statues there were missing their heads. "Why? Because the French wanted them for their museums! Any French in the group?" No one answered.

We all hung our heads in shame as we returned to the bus which would take us back to town.

Back at the hotel, I looked in the guidebook for something to do the following day. I noticed that there was a strip of beach not far from town, so the next day I checked out a bicycle from the hotel & rode out to see what it was like. It was beautiful - white sand, gentle waves, & not too many people. I spent the whole day there, lounging under a palapa & reading a book. Aah.

Next stop: Nha Trang.

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