Tonight was our last night in Hoi An with our newest friends the awesome-12-months-away-English backpacking family. Tomorrow morning they head off via train to Quang Ngai (not sure how to correctly pronounce that one) and we leave at 6.15pm to Nha Trang by overnight bus.
The overnight trains to Nha Trang were full, so our only option was bus. People shake their heads when we tell them how we’re getting to Nha Trang, even the Vietnamese. But it will be another interesting experience to add to our collection already (and most probably we will be a grumpy, sleep deprived family) at the end of it.
Only a couple of days ago we got into a minibus with another family, all 11 of us, and set off for a day tour to My Son and Marble Mountain just outside of Hoi An city. That’s part of what great traveling is all about – meeting other people along the way that you connect with and have something in common (many children and a passion for backing to wonderful far away lands), and you get to share a part of your journey together that lasts forever.
My Son is a jungle valley where stands the most extensive Cham remains built from the 4th century to the 13th century. Many of the temples are in disrepair and many are being reconstructed after American bombings devastated the sites where VC armies were stationed and from jungle overgrowth over many centuries. We hired a guide to explain and show us My Son and he was fantastic. It reminded us a lot like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, except on a much smaller scale. Only 20 of the 68 temples survived. It really is quite thought provoking to stand at this site and see how this ancient civilisation built these temples out of bricks with no mortar so many centuries ago and then you see the impact of the bombs – deep, rounded craters that in the temples or nearby ground destroying such history in an instant. Well worth going to visit and the guide only cost $5 extra.
After that we got back into our minibus to enjoy some lunch and then visit Marble Mountain – consisting of 5 craggy marble mountains with pagodas on top. Each one apparently represents a natural element: water, wood, fire, metal/gold and earth. A massive glass elevator or stairs were on offer to reach the top of the mountain and visit some of the caves… yep, we all took the stairs!!! Nah only kidding…when Dacey got in the elevator she likened it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s glass elevator. This one, however, stopped to let us out at the top! Great views of China Beach and the massive development taking place along this stretch of beach.
The girls will miss the fun swimming pool and card games and social interaction with the English boys. And Steve and I will miss the adult conversation with Francesca and Martina. Its been lovely having more parents around all the kids. We may or may not bump into each other again in our final southward bound journey to Ho Chi Minh City but we will definitely stay in contact with our new backpacking friends. We’ve been chatting about beginning a Start Running Group in Brighton, England for goodness sake!
Here are some snaps from My Son:
And some more from Marble Mountain:
And this is the gang of kids who had a few dinners together, lots of fun in the pool and an ice-cream on the last night in Hoi An. Thanks guys it’s been great. Will miss you all.
PS fingers crossed we catch up on Sunday night or Monday morning in Nha Trang.