Besides the Ancient Town of Hoi An, there is another UNESCO site just around 40 min drive away from the town, My Son. The place, once used to be the religious centre for the capital of the Champa Kingdom, had been abandoned and partially ruined until French archaeologists stumbled across them in 1898. Between 7th and 13th centuries My Son served as a site for religious ceremonies for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa, as well as a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes. Champa culture was influenced by the Hindu religion so no wonder one can find images of Shiva and Parvati on the walls of the ruined temples as well as sculptures of Lingam and Yoni here and there.
The site is situated inside the jungle, and the air there is much hotter and stuffier than outside. I actually can't imagine visiting this place during dry season, when temperature is 35-38 C degrees. On the day of our visit it was "just" 30 C and still we came back from the tour literally wet with sweat from head to toes.
There is not much left of the temples to see, the damage comes from their age of course but also from heavy bombing by the Americans during the Vietnam War which is such a shame (one can still see a huge bomb crater near the entrance to the main cluster of temples). As a result, only a fraction of the structures are still standing but restoration efforts are underway.
After spending half a day among My Son ruins we later headed to another nearby place that sounded interesting - the Marble Mountains. The place really charmed me: great views across the coastline, bright and colourful temples, exotic pagodas, numerous sculptures and enchanting caves. I had not expected that I would like exploring caves so much. There are many of them there, from small and cute to huge and grand. Sometimes when you are inside a rather small cave you see a narrow opening in one of its walls, and you decide to go through it and then unexpectedly find yourself in another much bigger cave. I loved that. Several caves contained religious shrines as well as sculptures of different deities.
This is interesting that many elements of the temples are decorated with pieces of broken ceramics
The Marble Mountains are not only famous for their beauty and religious significance, but also their wartime history. During the American/Vietnam War, it is said that the Viet Cong soldiers hid out and established hospitals inside the caves of the mountains.
Dragon is a popular motif for decoration in Vietnam
Nature and culture co-exists peacefully at this site, making for an unforgettable experience.