jeudi 28 juin 2012

On thursday august 4th, we left for Hoi An, a once prosperous port in the 17th and 18th centuries. Long road. On the way we stopped in two Cham archelogical sites: Khuong My and Chien Dang. The Cham civilization came from Indonesia which flourished for a thousand years between 500 AD and 1500 AD; it  was a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism and indigenous cults. Unfortunately most of the artistic legacy has been destroyed in recent years by neglect, vandalism and war. Oooh! Silkworms!!!

Jeudi 4 août 2011: en route pour Hoi An, ancien port très prospère au XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Arrêt aux sites archéologiques cham de Khuong My et Chien Dang.

On friday august 5th, we visited Hoi An, an exceptionally well preserved trading port from the 15th to the 19th century. The heart of the old town is quaint and very charming full of winding lanes and its old chinese style merchant houses. In 1999 UNESCO status was awarded, which has attracted mass tourism with its lot of tourist shops, (like this shoe store!!!), restaurants and galleries. A nice stop in a comfortable western hotel, with swimming pool and everything making it a nice halt in the middle of our trip. Imagine doing your your grocery shopping with one of these... no, don't even think of it; it's so heavy, how on earth do they lift these things???

Vendredi 5 août 2011: visite de Hoi An, bourgade inscrite au patrimoine mondial par l'Unesco avec ses demeures en bois de riches marchands.

Here is the Japanese covered bridge Chua Cau or Lai Vien Kieu, which was built around 1593 by the japanese community. Renovated in 1986, it is today the symbol of Hoi An.On one end is a dog statue and on the other a pig statue representing the year the construction started and ended. 

 Pont japonais bâti en 1593 à Hoi An.

Look at those fruits; talking about food, vietnamese cuisine is simply marvelous! We learned how to make spring rolls while in the south, and we're now almost cham(ps)!

My Son (which means Beautiful Mountain in vietnamese), is another Cham sanctuary very active between the 4th and the 12th century, with its cluster of something like 70 or more ruined hindhuist temples made of red bricks. The ruins were discovered in 1889. It is another UNESCO world heritage site but was heavily damaged during the Vietnam war. I remember hearing that name very often on television news at the time, a period one would prefer to forget. On our way back to Hoi An we stopped in a place where a woman taught us how to make rice pancakes, the ones you need to make spring roles!

Site archéologique hindouiste de My Son, la Vallée Sacrée du royaume du Champa, actif du IVe au XIIe siècles, et visite d'une fabrique de galettes de riz sur le chemin vers Hoi An.

On saturday august 6 we left for DaNang. During the Vietnam war Danang was a major air base for both the south vietnamese and US air force. The marble mountains around, explain for the marble industry. Whether you are looking for great big marble buddhas or some other awful souvenirs, this is the place to go to! What is worth the stop is the DaNang Museum of Cham sculture. It houses the greatest colection of Cham sculpture, many if not most from My Son. There are some strange stringy trees in front; what their names are, I don't have the faintest idea!!!

Samedi 6 août 2011: départ pour Danang, 3e ville du Vietnman, base aérienne américaine. Visite d'une marbrerie et du musée d'Art Cham, vestiges de My Son.

Continuing north towards Hué along the coast, before crossing what was once the border line separating the north and the south. It seams like the vietnamese have quickly understood that tourists are great for buying stuff. Darn materialistic world!!! Here you could buy pearls if you wished! Just a look at pearls developping in an oyster was enough of a treat for me.

Continuation vers Hué en longeant la côte et en passant le col des Nuages, ancienne frontière entre le Nord et le Sud.

Here we learned how to make incense sticks and pointed hats; who knows? It might come in handy some day!!! Then Emperor Tu Duc's mausoleum near Hué. Tu Duc reigned from 1848 to 1883. He started building it long before his death as this was also his summer palace. It called for so much labor and extra taxation, that there was an abortive  revolt against Tu Duc in 1866. He wanted his tomb to be a fairyland with poetic features, making it a lifetime dream and a world for his eternal life after death. The crazy thing is that he isn't even buried here, but somewhere in or near Hué, but nobody knows exactly where! It is one of the most beautiful works from the Nguyen dynasty. Had he been Emperor Michael Jackson, for sure he would have called it Neverland! By the way Nguyen has got to be the most wide-spread family name, like Smith or Martin in the west so if you think someone is a descendant of the royal family... it probably isn't the case.

Leçon de fabrique de bâtons d'encens et de chapeaux. Mausolée de l'empereur Tu Duc.

On sunday august 7, we took a boat ride 5 km north of Hué, up the Perfume River. That day, it just so happened it was the Celestial Lady Festival where people come from all over this part of Asia to get unbewitched!!! On the boat, we had vietnamese vendors who wanted us to buy  clothing! The vietnamese are always trying to sell you something or other!

Dimanche 7 août 2011: remontée en bateau de la rivière des Parfums depuis Hué. Fête de la Fée Céleste (pour se faire désenvoûter!!!)

We stopped to see the seven storey Linh Mu (or Thiên Mu meaning celestial lady) buddhist octogonal pagoda, which is also the highest in Vietnam. It dates back since 1601. Today because of the festival, it was quite crowded, but unexpected events such as this one is certainly always a nice treat.

Escale au temple Linh Mu avec sa célèbre pagode octogonale.

12 km from Hue is Minh Mang's mausoleum, fairly similar to the previous Tu Duc one, but slightly less lavish. Here we saw a couple of young newlyweds to be, getting their photograph taken for the event. Oh my, how romantic!

Tombeau de Ming Mang.

The Imperial Purple Forbidden City in Hué. Unfortunately most of the buildings were destroyed during the Vietnam war, but many have been rebuilt since.

.La citadelle qui abrite la Cité Pourpre Interdite à Hué.

A rickwhaw stroll around the city ended our day before flying to Hanoi, with a stop here and there: Ho Chi Minh's house. (He could have offered us some tea, but didn't... I wonder why?); the military museum with american tanks left behind... the sort of thing that gives me goose bumps, just thinking about it, that period of time being such a nightmare. 

Ballade dans Hué en cyclo-pousse, maison de ho Chi Minh, musée militaire. Envol pour Hanoi.

Monday august 8th in Hanoi... oh gosh, when it rains it surely pours around here at this time of the year. In less than a quarter of an hour, some streets are totally flooded, what a sight! If we really want to go sight-seeing here, perhaps it would be best to put on our swimming suits!!! People here are used to this and just go on with their business. Needless to say the traffic jams can really be something!!! A rickshaw stroll again here in the old section of Hanoi; a nice way to start the visit of the city; I just wouldn't want to be the poor driver, not to mention that we westerners are much heavier than the lean and slim vietnamese! Human exploitation, less polluting than gasoline, but come on now...

Lundi 8 août 2011: Hanoi sous le déluge, bouchons et inondations...; visite de la vieille ville en cyclo-pousse.

The Jade Ngoc Son temple in Hanoi dates back to the 18th century and is located on an island on the lake Hoan Kiem. The religious site above is on the north end corner of the lake. A wooden bridge connects the island to the mainland. Ngoc Son means jade mountain.

Petit lac au sud de la ville, Temple de Jade Ngoc Son.

Also on lake Hoan Kiem is another temple, that of Quan Thanh, a taoist temple dedicated to Xuan Wu, one of the main Taoist deities. The big black genie is Tran Vo, was made in 1677 and weighs about 4 tons. (I guess not all vietnamese are feather weight!!!)

Temple Quan Thanh (avec son gros génie noir) au bord du grand lac Hoan Kiem.

Last but not least the Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest of the capital; and finally to end the day, a traditional puppet show on water on Thang Long avenue!

Pagode Tran Quoc sur une presqu'île près du lac de l'Ouest; spectacle de marionnettes sur l'eau sur l'avenue Thang Long.

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