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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 13 Mar 2007

Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

MapAfter a fantastic evening spent in Hoi An, I just had to spend another night there. Nam and I were on the road by 10 am, the highlight of the day was the My Son Temple. I would consider this a mini version of Angkor Watt in Cambodia (even though I haven't been there yet). It's a Hindu temple that was built during the Champa period (8th-12th centuries A.D.). The Champa people moved South from Central Vietnam and then up through Cambodia. This place was unlike any other temple I've been to. These are fantastic structures built of brick that were not held together by any kind of material, just so tightly packed that the buildings stayed intact. This was where they worshiped the Hindu gods. Buddhism has replaced Hinduism in Vietnamese society today. History buff that I am, I was in my glory wandering around these buildings that have been untouched by restoration, with images of the gods carved onto the buildings and statues outside, set amidst some beautiful mountain scenery. It's amazing how these people could construct such things in their time. For me, it's kind of a preview for Angkor Watt--and having seen this one, I cannot wait to see what is supposed to be THE largest religious building in the world in Cambodia.

We spent a couple of hours there in the sweltering heat before it was back on the motorcycle, and nice to feel the wind blow through you after being in the heat a couple of hours. Before the Temple, we stopped at a weaving factory. This reminds me of the Industrial Revolution, and the creation of sweatshops. It's the Vietnamese women you see in these places (who also do all kinds of other laborious works in Vietnam) working away in the heat with these incredibly noisy machines. They work 8 hours a day (as compared to morning, noon, and night in the sweatshops of the old days). You can't help but feel sorry for these women, who make in a month what we tourists would spend in a day. Anyways, you see the fabric thread being sorted, and then it's weaved together string by string (done by loud machines that make very loud clamping noises) that takes quite a long time before a final sheet of fabric is made. Of course, they have colored fabric, too, and once it's complete, some kind of design is put on the clothing, and it then goes to the shops and the market to be sold to tourists and locals. With all the work that goes into it, and the little that the employees get back, I feel a bit guilty by bargaining too much, so am now prepared to spend a bit more--if I was to buy something. We stopped at a few of the smaller factories that were attached right to people's homes.

After the factories, we went back into Hoi An where I was prepared to spend another relaxing evening on the riverfront. Stopped and ate a hamburger (it's just not like the ones at home--not even close to the ones you get in Korea either--not bad, but if you're in Vietnam, don't expect a hamburger like home). Went for some beer afterward where I met 2 Irish girls whose names I can't remember (that's the way it goes in the backpacker lifestyle)who were there for a few days, so we had a few drinks together at a couple of pubs before I headed back to the hotel. Next day, off to the Central Highlands for the best part of the tour.