Hoi An is a nice historic little town. Very touristic, but there is a very agreeable atmosphere. And it’s un-Vietnamese calm and quiet. I must confess that after my complaint about the noise and the traffic in an earlier message it has been a lot better. I suppose this is not a consequence of my writing, but of the local circumstances. We stayed in Hoi An for 4 days, did a lot of shopping, stayed a day on the beach and enjoyed the local caf’es and restaurants. We also made a guided excursion to My Son. This is a site whith the remnants of many temples from the Cham culture, that was the leading culture here from the 2nd till more or less the 14th century. Later the Khmer culture become dominant and in Angkor Wat we saw many bas reliefs telling the stories of the wars between the Khmer and the Cham. There are still Cham living in Vietnam and Cambodia, mainly muslims now. As we got very interested in these old regional cultures we developed a liking to their artefacts. So we bought a sculpture. Not antique, but made following the original Cham art principles. It’s being shipped to Rotterdam now in a crate that also contains a lacquer painting and some sets of silk clothes that Eveline had made for herself.
After Hoi An we went north to Danang, passing China beach (famous rest and recreation place for GI’s during the American war). In Danang is the Cham museum, that we payed a visit of course. From there we continued to reach Hue in 2 days. There we found a very nice little hotel, where we had a room on the roof, with windows on 3 sides and our own balcony, overlooking the town (15 USD). We spent 3 days there and visited the citadel, from which not much is left after the 1968 TET-offensive, the emperial mausoleums and some musea. Nice town, but it lacked the atmosphere of Hoi An. Then we continued north and 2 days later we were at Cua Tung beach. There we stayed in a simple hotel at the beach with kind owners with whom it was difficult to communicate. But the stay was nice and the seafood was excellent. During the 2nd day of our stay we visited the tunnels of the fishing village Vinh Moc. During the American war this village was so heavily bombed during many years, that the inhabitants created a large network of tunnels in the latterite soil, in which they could take shelter and where they could lead a life as normal as possible in such circumstances. We were guided under the ground by a very little man, who as a child had helped building the tunnels and had actually lived there. Pity that he couldn’t speak, we had learned a lot more if he had.
Today we reached Dong Hoi, a bigger coastal town. Tomorrow we’ll go inland to visit the caves of Phong Nha, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site.