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Monday, November 26, 2012

Ancient Town, Hoi An

On the way back from My Son to Sunshine Hotel, we had a cat nap in the van. Once we arrived at the hotel, we had quick break and did our things. We cooked instant noodles and ate tuna with bread. 5 minutes to 12.00pm, we checked out and left our bags at the reception area, before we got into one mpv cab, to transport us to Hoi An town.

In less than half and hour, we reached Hoi An town, the same place where we cycled, the day before. The weather still not with us, but not too bad, it just drizzled.

“Take out your cone hat and wear.” Hubby suggested.

And so all of us walked in between those ancient buildings, with cone hat on, blended in with locals, who were none of them wearing one! Hahaha!

While walking, Dan Arif reminded me to stop at any souvenir shop that we bumped into. He wanted to buy bulk of postcards for #TravelholicAwesome and few others. We got lucky when we found one small shop that sells none other than postcards. Dan Arif and I went in and started to select few postcards, while hubby, Aqram, Pak Ein and his wife were still on the road.

Then we saw something that was so mindblowing!

Hahahaha!

A man on a bike, with a goat on his back!
“Like, seriously???”

Well, that was what we saw on the postcards. Not only that, they had pigs on it too! Not one, but more than three! Who says animals don’t ride? Even a cow can be transported via a bike! Hahaha!
We then walked towards the ticket booth and passed through without paying any fees. The back alley was indeed, a nice place to shoot. With the presence of tricycles, boats, and antique buildings, Hoi An reminded us of straits settlements that we have back in our country, Melaka and Penang.
“The Japanese building during day, not really amazing huh?”

“Em. Well, sometime, things look amazing under the lights, while some don’t.”

Couldn’t agree no more.

We headed to the riverfront, where we saw a row of yellow antique buildings. On the right, yellow river. Hahaha! Macam teh susu! There were boats along the river, locals were fishing…
“Fishing?”

Pak Ein quickly walked towards two locals who were actually handling rods, facing the river. Pak Ein suddenly lifted up the net and examined one medium-sized fish in it. He then tried to have a conversation with the locals, but turned out to be a duck and chicken talk. But he was happy. In point of fact, he was “teaching” the local how to fish! Omg!
(Note: Pak Ein is such a diehard fan of fishing, boat, river, sea, anything close to that.)
We then started to look for those famous old houses, as per gazetted in Hoi An places to visit, such as Tan Ky Old House, Duc An Old House, Phung Hung Old House and Quang Thang Old House. All looks the same but each has its own history and story. These houses are well preserved by the Government, as a near-perfect example of 18th century merchant’s residence. Almost all houses are equipped with antiques furniture and decoration, with small central courtyard in the middle.

“There! Tan Ky’s house. But…it is closed.” We sighed.
I quickly referred to my Cookbook and looked for the operation time. It is closed from noon to 2.00PM.

"Tan Kyyyyyyyy? Ooooooo Tan Kyyyyyyyy...open the dooooooorrrrrr!" I knocked hard.

“But the door looks different lah…?” I showed the book to hubby. Without a doubt, we had reached the house’s back door! Hahaha!

Enough with old houses, we passed the deal and photo-walking. Until, we stopped for a group picture in front of one of the restaurant’s back door. Who cares! Adding to the craziness, we had an antique photo shoot at one of the back alley. Cool!
We then stopped at Folklore Museum that we bumped into out of a sudden. Dan Arif and Aqram started to be kiddos by imitating their super warriors by throwing cone hats to each others. Hahaha! Pak Ein didn’t want to miss the chance, so he later, had one tourist pose in front of the museum.
Having no other places to visit, we entered the museum and had a lazy browse on those displayed objects. These objects are said to be 90% originals that aged more than 100 years, sorted by topics, like folklore, traditional, occupation, clothing, and games.
I was stunned with the local shawls where they printed beautiful and nice motives of butterfly. I tried so had to resist the bargain and I succeeded. Though it was gorgeous, I closed two eyes and walked away. I hate myself for being cheapskate! Hahaha! Anyway, I helped Pak Ein's wife to get a good bargain for 3 pieces of t-shirts, roughly RM7 per piece.

We then walked towards the main road and looked for a cab. While getting a cab, I saw street vendors selling local fruits and foods. One of the aunty noticed that I was taking her photo and she quickly covered her face with the cone hat! So quick you know. I was in zooming mode actually, but she still noticed me. Hahaha!
Around 3.00PM, we went back to Sunshine Hotel to take back our bags. We used the same service (Vietland Discovery) to transport us from Hoi An to Danang, with good price.
Still proudly wearing the cone hat :) Danang, here we come!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Son, Hoi An

“The driver already here.” Hubby look through the sliding door.

“Huh? So early? Let me call Abah and Dan.” I simultaneously put on my hijab while calling the other two rooms.

Luckily we were on time. We packed our bags, and got into the car. This time, the driver has changed. At least, the new can speak minimal English compared to the previous Mr. Smiley. At 7.00am, he drove us towards the My Son ruins, approximately 41km from Hoi An. The rain was heavy and we kept on praying to God that it will subside.
The luck wasn’t with us. After almost an hour of road trip, the rain still poured heavily. Once we reached the world cultural heritage compound, we saw no one at the ticket office. We had no idea whether we were early, or we were the only group who had gone crazy, visit the sanctuary, in this kind of weather.

We quickly got off the car and ran towards the only building before us. The driver then gave us an umbrella, and we took turn to shift ourselves. The ticket office was located in between two halls. We lingered around while waiting for the rain to subside. Nonetheless, it poured even heavier.
So we killed the time by entering both halls. The first hall to the left contained the overall interactive map of My Son Sanctuary. From this hall, we saw the evidence of Champa kingdom that owed a unique culture of Hinduism, which is now extinct, hence being recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1999. Stupas in various sizes, charts and diagrams, stone stele artifacts, everything that are saved from the ruins.  
Looking at the huge map, this place was formerly a large complex of imperial city of Cham kindgom, that kept more than 70 religious relics, from temples to towers, with complicated red brick designs. Anyhow, it is said that the prime foundation of the ancient complex was a wooden temple to worship Shiva, which later was destroyed in a big fire. From there, the historical mysteries were unveiled by scientist, where this site was also noted as the burial site of kings and religious leaders. 
Hubby then asked me whether we should continue to visit the ruins or not. We later decided to proceed since we had nothing else to do. So we went into the second hall, where this place was decorated like a speech-giving hall. There put two long tables, one rostrum, with bright turquoise and red curtains as the backdrop. On the walls, they hung pictures of leaders and sanctuary sites.

“Let’s be dramatic!” I suggested.

Dan Arif then set his camera to video mode while I arranged the rest according to their roles. Aqram acted as the prime minister, hubby became the prisoner, and I became the translator, while Dan Arif, Pak Ein and his wife, were the subjects whom agreeing to the punishment that was being read to hubby. 

‘Với sức mạnh cho tôi, tôi xin phát âm người đàn ông này là phạm tội.” Aqram read the script placed on the rostrum.

Chúng tôi đồng ý! Chúng tôi đồng ý!” Saying they agreed.

And the whole bunch of government ministers, happy with the sentence.

“Có! Có! Chết! Chết!” Shouting yes, yes, die, die! Hahaha!
Dissatisfied with the act, Dan Arif then re-read the whole script again, but this time, the whole sentence became even funnier! He spoke like a drunken Vietcong! Hahaha! Haih…how I wish he put it in our Danang Video.

“The rain ain’t going to stop.”

“Should we continue?” “Jom!”

We walked to the ticket office and purchased 6 entrance tickets (VND60,000 each). I also bought myself an umbrella to top the existing two umbrellas, given by the driver. He took us the most ends of any vehicles can go. He dropped us there and returned back to the reception building.
“Hello…we have to walk back?”

“I guess so…” Hubby had no idea whether the van will come back or else.

“WHAT? IT WAS LIKE 1 KILO! ERR…RIGHT??” I overacted. Looking at my hideous shoes. Sigh.
My Son’s Champa towers are classified depending on the position of those towers, and according to the architecture styles. This area is super huge that they have to group it into several sections.

Group A consist of 17 works. Pagoda tower. The main temple located here and considered as masterpiece amongst all. The height was 24 meters before it was broken down by a bomb.

Group B, G, D consist of 27 works. Market tower. The principle temple located here with carved elephants under a tree, where two trunks touching. Anyhow group G was seriously damaged due to its location on a low hill.

Group C consist of 7 works. The roof tower is boat-shaped with lotus and petals that symbolized divinities.

Group E, F consist of 5 works. Hd Khe tower. These groups are separated by a stream and most of the towers were broken down.

Group H consist of 4 works. Chess tower. This group also located on a low hill and was broken down at war.

Group K consist of 2 works. Similar to group G and H, all towers were badly damaged, left only one small tower with spear-shaped vault on two pillars.

Other works are L, M, N. These groups are totally isolated from the central area and were broken down.

We walked towards the jungle, via small pathway. I must admin that the scenery would be gorgeous if it wasn’t raining. About 50 meters walking in the rain, we finally saw the first ruin, under the sweating ponchos. We climbed up and had a quick tour around the one and only piled up red bricks, that we believed, one of the main entrance pillars of Group H.
“Omg…I passed through the muddy grass…without any bloodsucking leeches on me!”
We then continued walking along the man-made trail until we saw two wooden buildings before us. The left one was a café and souvenir center, while the right one was for cultural show. Aqram, Pak Ein and his wife waited there, while the three of us walked towards the biggest ruins of Group B, C, and D.
Each of us carried an umbrella and we started to explore the whole complex. Some of the relics like stone stele and lingga, still in tact, though most of them were badly destroyed.
B group contains the tower gate of the temple that worshiped God Ganesa, God Skanda, with Vishnu sitting on the sacred snake, Naga with 13 heads. Whilst, minor towers were dedicated to God Grahas (SunSurya, MoonSandra, MarsAgni, MercuryVaruna, JupiterIndra, Venuslsana, and Saturn-A Yama), symbolized seven days in a week of India’s Saka calendar.

“Saka?”

“Hahaha!”

C group contains main temple with boat-shaped and false windows. Praying figures of Shiva and such, were carved nicely with Cham King under it. This traditional Cham tower has 3 parts, the foundation (Bhurloka), the body (Bhurvaloka) and the roof (Svarloka). Omg, the names were sooooo Pavlova! Hahaha!

Aqram, Pak Ein and his wife later came and joined us. I quickly set the camera in self-timer mode, and snapped few pictures of us. Without tripod, I had to put the camera on the ruins brick, covered with an umbrella. Pak Ein told me not to go too close in between bricks, afraid of snakes or other poisonous animals.
We then walked to the D group, where this area contains two long rectangular houses that already broken down. This place was for receiving pilgrims and preparing the ritual objects for the temple. I asked Dan Arif to pose next to the linga, that its symbolization, stills a debate within Hinduism. Some said that it is male creative energy, while some said it is purely divine energy. Anyways, Dan Arif posed like getting some holy water la konon. Tapi air hujan jer. Hahaha!
On the other hand, Pak Ein and his wife tried to be funny, by posing behind the sculptures, inside the tower rooms, in front of wall towers, and many more. Glad that they enjoyed the trip, though they kept on reminding me, “Nanti bawak abah pegi tempat shopping na?” Like every half and hour. Yes, the place where he can buy everything for the villagers. Hahaha!
“Eh, let’s do something funny for the video!” I suggested to Dan Arif, while he was locating his camera on the brick.

In 0.05 seconds (wah like Gaban), we formed a line and marched! In ponchos! Hahaha! It was hell of fun when no one was around, except for us.

The rain still drizzled. We finally satisfied with the catch and walked towards where we came from. Back at the show hall, we sat for a while and waited, in case there is a show. But there was none. One huge group of visitors then came and joined us, so we walked to the souvenir shop, where Pak Ein started to get crazy for the Viet conical traditional hat.
“We should have bought this hat before, easy to walk in the rain.” He said.

In a minute, I saw him taking 10 pieces! “Untuk orang kampung lagi ke?” I thought he wanted to give to the villagers again.

“No…these are for my kaki pancing geng.”

“Okay…why don’t we get each, one hat as well?”

Cool. So all six of us bought and straight away wore it. To add the fun, we danced in front of the show hall, in replacing the missing dancers. Hahaha!
“So, go back to hotel and then cycle to Hoi An town?”

“Yup, lets find our driver then.”

Now...who says you can't take pictures in rain, huh? Worry not about hair, neither your cloths, nor your shoes, slip in the poncho, hold an umbrella, and you a good to shoot :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Japanese Bridge, Hoi An

“YE LAHHHHH! It's Japanese Bridge!” Hubby expressed his excitement.
We left the night market and walked closer to the river. From the opposite site, we tried to get the best photo out of the Japanese Bridge. Next to us, there were teenagers breakdancing, and got excited when Dan Arif recorded them. Meanwhile, Pak Ein stopped by at one young local who was having battery-operated bicycle. I can see that he really like the bicycle compared to what we were having at the moment (hotel bicycle). Hubby then led the way back to where we came from, crossed the lantern bridge and turned left, towards the Japanese Bridge.
This bridge is one of the famous attractions in Hoi An that belongs to the Japanese Community, built in 1950s in order to create link with Chinese quarters across the stream. It was then flatten by the French to suit their motor vehicles, but the original arched shape was restored back during major renovation work. At one end of the bridge, there are two sculptures of dog and monkey (that we missed them), as a symbol of sacredness. It was recorded that this bridge was initiated in dog year and finished in monkey year.

Another religious theory was, this bridge was built to pin down the “mamazu” dragon monster, whose head located in India, and tail located in Japan. So why Vietnam? This was due to Vietnam’s location that happened to be on the dragon’s back! The movement of the tail was believed to create earthquakes in Japan. So by spanning down the “mamazu”, it can prevent it to be happened. But we can see that, once in a while, the dragon did some “stretching” huh? Hahaha.
While enjoying the history, rain started to drizzle. We quickly put on our ponchos and snapped pictures. I had to hold the umbrella to cover the camera, while hubby doing his great job, capturing the bridge and flowing lanterns. Pak Ein and his wife quickly walked on the bridge and get themselves covered. Next to this bridge, there was one old classic emperor’s covered litter by the road side. I wasn’t sure what it was called, coz litter should be wheelless but this one has two wheels, slightly like what Chinese and Japanese ancient transportation. So we played the role.
After few shots, we walked back to our bicycles. In ponchos (with the helped of plastic bag), we cycled back to the hotel.
“Dan, bite your poncho!” I saw Dan’s poncho started to slip off, fly here and there, not covering his head. Lucky we had a better poncho with string around the face (bought at Saigon few years back). So, make sure you check your poncho, guys.

At the hotel, we handed back the bicycle keys. Out of sudden, Pak Ein asked for rice! Aku dah agak! I asked the hotel reception whether they still have rice in the kitchen. Guess what? Pak Ein had the biggest smile on earth when he got to know that the hotel did serve rice for dinner in the café, with reasonable price. Being Pak Ein’s supporters, we took 5 sets of plain rice and brought back to the room. Not only that, he took soy sauce and chili sauce right from the dinner table as well! Bahagia.
“Serunding?”

“Checked!”

“Ayaq?”

“Checked!”

*Ngap! Ngap! Ngap!*

Can't wait for My Son tomorrow!

Friday, November 9, 2012

An Hoi Night Market, Hoi An

We crossed the bridge and went to the other side, where we saw night market. Great! Time for souvenirs hunting! When Dan Arif and I looked for fridge magnets for #TravelholicAwesome, Pak Ein and his wife looked for it too!

“Abah, nak kasi sapa?” I wondered to whom he wanted to give it to.

“Ada la…kawan…orang kampung…”

“HUH? ORANG KAMPUNG?” I saw him taking 10 pieces of it. One house each? Hahaha!

Pak Ein and Dan Arif combined all 20 plus pieces of fridge magnets and got it for USD1 each. Hubby then created a chaos at two vendors when he was getting Mama, a miniature of scooter. We thought Vietnamese are nice and polite people but when it comes to money, not only Vietnamese will get crazy. We too! Hahaha!

We stopped at one intersection of Nguyen Huang and La Hoi, where we masquerade ourselves in front of lantern vendors. We took turn to pose at the only sign pole, to prove that we were there. 




"Eh...is that...Japanese Bridge?!"

Teng teng teng...

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