Our one excursion from Hoi An was an early morning tour to Mỹ Sơn . Mỹ Sơn is an 4th century to 14th century Hindu complex of temples in Central Vietnam. Founded by the Champa, a empire that ruled central Vietnam and extended into Cambodia and Thailand, it lasted until the end of the 15th century when it was defeated by the Vietnamese. The temples remained hidden in the jungles until "rediscovered" by the French in the late 19th century. The temple complex was obliterated by US B52 carpet bombing in one week of 1969, and by US Marine sappers blowing up a remaining temple. Restoration is currently being funded by India and Italy. A good description of the Mỹ Sơn complex can be found in wikipedia
So we went to Mỹ Sơn leaving at 5am to avoid the oppressive heat of an August summer day. The bus ride was approximately 1 hour in length. At the entrance gate we had to pay our entry fee, and the police came out to count the number of people in the bus before allowing entry.
After we got off the bus, our guide told us to stick to the marked trail or we would get lost. Since there was a lot of thick jungle, I took the warning at face value. Only later when reading about Mỹ Sơn did I discover the reason was unexploded 250lb, 500lb bombs, and land mines from various sources. In this case "lost" meant more than lost.
|Our Guide and the Linga|
We wandered around the ruins of the temples, carefully following the marked paths, viewed monoliths with writing our guide said were untranslatable, but were probably written in both Sanskrit and Cham. When searching the web for information on Mỹ Sơn, I found the most useful information in Wikiopedia, and on the Global Heritage Fund website. The Global Heritage Fund site has better and more useful pictures than I was able to take.
|A temple in need of stabilization|
|Another temple needing restoration work|
The best part of the tour was we left before the crafts shop opened.