Thursday, March 19, 2009


(This is the third in a series of daily posts covering our Valentine's holiday vacation to Hội An and Mỹ Sơn. Picking up mid-swim, now:) I shouldn't make light of visiting the Champa Indochinese Hindu temple site at Mỹ Sơn (which is pronounced mee sohn, by the way). It was very interesting. The temple complex there was probably begun sometime in the fourth century, even as the bustling Chinese seaport of Hội An was beginning to burgeon. It's interesting these two cultures thrived thirty-five kilometers apart. But Mỹ Sơn was protected in a fertile valley between converging mountain ranges, where it prospered, more or less, for ten centuries as the religious and cultural nerve center of a great southern kingdom before eventually being consumed by the emerging Việt culture. In Mỹ Sơn, each successive Cham king built greater temples and religious centers, had documentary artworks carved into the jagged brick walls, advanced civilization, etc., before each was then successively entombed there. Because of its longevity, it's possible to track the mutation of Champa religion from its roots to something more regionally synthesized. A thousand-year progression from nearly Hindu to budding Buddhism is illustrated. We only wandered around the site for about an hour, during which our guide advanced learned modern suspicions about the Cham people's everyday religious activities. Mỹ Sơn remains an awesome place. Time has ravaged it, ornate conical stupas have crumbled or toppled. Many of the structures were damaged during bombing runs in 'sixty-nine. What's left is gorgeous though: pink and gray brick draped with vines and spongy moss. Also it’s under construction. Several larger outlying structures are hidden within towers of scaffolding. All that said, it was impossible not to feel it was somewhat anti-climactic after visiting the much grander Khmer temple city at Angkor. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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