Dan and Lu's Travels
Sun burn was easing a bit so decided to go to the Cham towers. We got a cyclo the 2km from Nha Trang centre. Both on one this time and we really felt for the poor guy who was cycling; it was OK on the flat, but we started climbing a slught hill to get on to a bridge which crosses the Cai river at its mouth to the South China sea, and we were hardly moving. So we offered to get off and walk until we got onto the bridge! The towers are called Po Nagar Cham Towers and were built between the 7th and 12th centuries. Champa was a Hindu kingdom that emerged from the area around Danang (about half way up Vietnam) in the 2nd century AD. The Chams are best known for their towers. The site is high up and looks over the wide Cai river lined with ramshackle houses and fishing boats, then on to the sea. It's quite windy so the brick work is very eroded, but this just adds to the charm. It is a site used for worship today by Buddhists. We hopped back on our cyclo and our driver asked us if we wanted to see Buddha (this involved quite an amusing 5 minute waving of hands and confusing looks until we realised what he meant). Long Son Pagoda was impressive, with quite a few people praying and resident monks sounding gongs. We entered the site and were immediately accosted by two little girls who insisted they weren't guides so we wouldn't have to pay them. They took us the back way up some steps to a giant sleeping Buddha, which isn't in the LP and they said was new. The they moved in for the kill. they had us in a secluded position off the main steps and said we should buy postcards as there was no entrance fee and it would help 29 children go to school. We didn't really have much choice so we bought some. The worst postcards I have ever seen. The Cham towers one had scaffolding on them! The Buddha at the top, seated on a lotus blossom was very impressive. 14 metres high and apparantly visible from all around the town. Wet for a beer at Shorty's. I sat reading my Kim Phic book while Dan sat at the bar watching the Liverpool - Man Utd game (the owner is a geordie!) The book is fantastic, and I'm glad I've started reading it while still in Vietnam. Kim is from a place called Trang Bang (where the napalm attack occured) which is between the Cao Dai temple we went to and Cu Chi (where the tunnels are) so I could really imagine what the place was like. Also found out that Cao Dai temple is the Holy See of the Cao Dai cult. We thought it was Buddhist but its actually a cult begun in the 1920s and takes influence from Buddhism, Hinduism and Confuscianism. Their structure is based on Catholicism; which explains a lot as at the ceremony we saw thereseemed to be a hierarchy in the colours worn etc. Liverpool won! I ended up talking to Alexis, a kiwi whose husband Raj was now playing pool with Dan and Kalle. She and Raj have been living in London for the past 4 and half years and decided to move back to New Zealand. So they've been travelling back through Asia. Not sure they're ready to go back as they kept moaning about how quiet NZ is!! Dan stayed out and did rum on the street stall again with Kalle...!