Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam

I never finished my recaps of our trip to Vietnam (which was almost a year ago now!). We started off by staying in Hoi An for five days. I took one of these days to venture off by myself to the UNESCO-listed ruin of My Son Sanctuary.
Here's what UNESCO has to say on the subject:
Between the 4th and 13th centuries a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence.
The temples are beautiful and dramatic. I didn't have a real camera, sadly (having lost mine in Hoi An), so these are all taken with my terrible cell phone camera.
It was a Hindu site so they worshipped Shiva in the guise of a lingam (phallic symbol). Here's one of the shrines, and below is another, looking even more phallic.
The site was relatively uncrowded, and most of the people there were in tour groups, making it easy to avoid them.
My favorite part was getting to enter the intact shrines. They are so dark inside, making them very dramatic in the tropical sunshine.

One of the few intact structures. My Son was heavily damaged during the Vietnam War as the Viet Cong used it as a base and the American army bombed it extensively as a result.
The small museum (without any explanatory text, however) houses some examples of the sculpture. My favorite was the elephant-headed lion.
B stayed with R at the hotel so that I could enjoy the site at my own pace (glacially slow and thorough). I missed them of course but was so happy enjoying my ruin! Thanks B!
The ruins are surrounded by jungle, which is quite lovely and adds to the atmosphere of the place.
My Son is not as stunning and impressive as Angkor Wat or Borobudur, but it is still well worth a visit (especially as it's only a short trip from Hoi An). Many tours go there, but I rented a taxi, which if you can afford it (it wasn't that expensive, maybe $40? I don't remember the exact price now) is well worth it as you can then go at your own pace and avoid the crowds.
Path back to the entrance

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