No, they don’t really do that, do they?

10 May

So, not long to see Hoi An on this schedule, and my moto driver whisks me off to My Son (pronounced ‘mee son’) to see the old Cham ruins. The ruins are cradled in the mountains in the lee of the massive Hon Quap (Cat’s Tooth Mountain). I’ve seen better kept ruins at Angkor Wat, but the setting is gorgeous. There’s a display of national dance and music, including the Water Carrying Dance, and then another 40km on moto to Marble Mountain.My Son (5)My Son (8)

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It’s harvest time, and the workers are bringing in the rice harvest.. some by machine but some still cut either by hand or by what we would call a brush cutter – or Strimmer, if you must. The harvest is spread out to dry anywhere that space exists.. in the driveway, on the side of the road, on the road itself – even, in one glorious example, in the middle of a road junction (sorry, no photo of that one… I was so shocked I nearly fell off the bike). The rice is joined by chilli peppers and corn, peanuts and fish – some have yards of harvest, while others just have a few basketfuls.

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The bike ride, by the way, is as eventful as ever, with lorries backing up unexpectedly and cycles shooting out of side roads – as well as a number of ‘driving on the pavement’ moments that would have a blue flashing light on your tail in a instant if you tried it in the UK. An additional hazard is caused by my helmet, which, if I raise my head too much gets caught by the wind, flips off my head and attempts to garrotte me.

Marble Mountain is a series of temples in caves scattered round rocky peaks.. you can climb through one cave to find another – a child’s dream.. if only the adults would let them. There are both Buddhist and Hindu temples here, reflecting the joint heritage of much of South East Asia. It’s fascinating stuff with beautiful views over the surrounding peaks and to the sea beyond, although I am somewhat frustrated by the attentions of two unwanted guides, the second of which has to be shown how much money I have and how much I need to pay my driver before she will cease her demands for a tip.

And then back to the hotel… a brief discussion about how much the day was supposed to cost leaves me out of pocket but not prepared to break my peace for a few dollars.

And time for a walk round Hoi An itself. This is a truly beautiful town – one of the few that actually charges an admission fee (around $5 a day). But each of the shops and restaurants is a gem, a beautiful example of French, Japanese and Chinese architecture.

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Many of the houses are open to the public, but it’s worth just wandering the streets. Hunger eventually gets the better of me and I pull up a stool at a street vendors by the river. I fall off the stool, so he brings two. I’m not sure how to take that, but the cao lau noodles (only available in Hoi An, as the water for these noodles has to come from the Hoi An well) are good. The vendor’s daughter and I practice writing and drawing together (hers is better than mine) as the sun sets and the river comes to life, with huge illuminated Chinese animals floating on the water. An old lady sets off floating lanterns that drift down the river while couples wander arm in arm over the Japanese bridge. Hoi An is a beautiful place to visit, and it’s a shame that I have less than 24 hours here.. but the bus calls again…

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One Response to “No, they don’t really do that, do they?”

  1. Nikki May 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    Just reflecting on how incredible it is – thinking of all the astonishing, amazing places you have seen, people you have met, and things you have experieced on this round the world tour… whilst there are many people who will never venture further than their immediate surroundings, and have no idea – or no wish to know – what else is out there…

    What a fantastic adventure of discovery you are on!

    Hugs to you Mr H – take care,

    Nikki xx

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