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Early morning tour to My Son

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 13 April 2010 | Views [826]

Temple at My Son

Temple at My Son

When I crept downstairs at 4:40 this morning I saw that several motorbikes had been brought in the lobby and there was a man sleeping on the floor under a pop-up mosquito screen. I was wondering if the tour that I booked to My Son for 5:00am was really going to happen or if I was going to be left waiting in the lobby of the Hoa Binh hotel. My watch beeped to let me know that it was the fifth hour of the morning and I began to mentally prepare the monologue that I was going to deliver to the hotel staff when they arrived. At 5:10, the bus arrived and I put the dramatics aside. I would save the speech for another day. To my surprise a large number of tourists had signed up for the early morning visit to the Cham ruins. We stopped at the tour office for a quick breakfast of an egg sandwich made with a fresh baguette. After a stiff shot of Vietnamese coffee it didn’t matter what hour it was, I was awake.

I tried to read in the bus on the way to the site about 35km outside of Hoi An, but the sight of the haze on the rice paddies in the early light was too much of a distraction, not to mention a bit hypnotic. When we arrived the tour guide started in on his speech about the ruins and what we would be looking at. His accent was so thick that I had a difficult time following him, but I would cringe every time he mentioned that a temple only partially remained because of the bombing during the war. At least one group of buildings was spared and I saw the worn but still familiar forms of the Hindu gods on their temple walls. I was re-educated on the features of a Hindu temple. A little review is always good, but it was only 7:00am and I found myself ducking for shade every chance I could get. We continued to tour the site on our own until 8:30am and I wondered what kind of souvenir shop we were go to on our way back to Hoi An. To my complete amazement, they took us straight back to our hotels.

* * * * * *

I found myself strolling along the riverside again looking for a place to have dinner. I checked out a restaurant that was mentioned in Lonely Planet, but the current diners didn’t look too pleased and there was a small child crying somewhere in the background. I appreciate a family-run restaurant, but I get a bit irritated when there are small children running around. I kept walking. I passed by a place where an Australian couple was having drinks. I heard, “the fresh beer is really good if your looking for a place.” That was all the encouragement that I needed. Not that I was all that enthusiastic about beer. I just wanted to hear that someone was pleased with their choice. They invited me to join them, and I sat down to have a beer and an appetizer of fried wontons, Hoi An style. I’ve had a fried wonton before, but here they top it with a grilled diced vegetables and pineapple. The couple from Brisbane had traveled quite extensively through Southeast Asia since their retirement and they shared some good information with me. For example, train travel in Vietnam was totally within my price range, that is, if I had just made my purchase at the train station. The same ticket that the travel agents were charging $25 for, would have only cost $16 there. I’m kicking myself. I’ll know better next time.

The Australian couple (Rog and Sue) decided to pay for their drinks and go purchase dinner from a sidewalk noodle soup vendor. They invited me along and we had a bowl of pho bo as we swapped more stories and talked of travel plans. I had a really good time. They paid for my bowl of noodles and told me to pay the favor forward somewhere down the road.

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