Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Son Holy Land; Motorcycle Touring

I met Hai, my motorbike taxi tourguide from the day before, at my hotel after an early breakfast in Hoi An. We set out for My Son Holy Land, a UNESCO site, and the central highlands of Vietnam to view some gorgeous scenery along the Ho Chi Minh trail, meet some local farmers from one of Vietnam's many minority ethnic groups, and learn a little about traditional farming and food preparation.

This is what I got to look at all day.

My Son was in the middle of a jungle paradise. They called it a "sanctuary," and it certainly had an amazingly verdant jungle smell and air of peacefulness about the site, despite the numerous tourists already arrived by the time we got there.

Evidence of the early influence of Hindu architecture on shrines in Vietnam

The brick structures at My Son are somewhat of a mystery, as they have endured for so long with no mortar to hold them together.

From Hai, I learned and practiced most of the Vietnamese that I picked up while touring the country. I learned that pineapples grow in bushes, not trees. That gold is mined from rivers using barges designed especially for that purpose. That Vietnamese bury their families in grave sites in active rice fields (the ancestors protect the rice?). I went on a motorbike ferry across a river and crossed a bridge on the motorcycle that seemed like it was going to give out at any moment.

I witnessed that motorcycles can be adapted for ANY farming/transportation use you might need.

I made a tasty "rice paper" snack.

I met some of the families who, despite their extreme poverty, are unbearably beautiful when they smile.

Overall, I got just a small taste of the "real" Vietnam, and I loved it. If I came back again, I would definitely take a full tour with Hai. Even though the tour was by far the most expensive day trip I went on while in the country, it was worth the extra cost. If you travel to Vietnam and will be in the Da Nang region, I will happily give you Hai's contact information.

Please do check out the rest of the album from my best day in Vietnam:

My Son Holyland; Highlands Motorbike Tour

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