This is one of the smaller sites at My Son, Vietnam. I liked the way the grass is trying to take back the structure.
We took a packaged tour to My Son and wound up on a big bus tour. I’m not very good at sticking with big groups of people and wandered off pretty quickly. A lot of this Hindu temple complex was ruined in the Vietnam war and the remaining bomb craters were a clear reminder of this – some were huge.
There were a number of tours moving around so once I had this photo set up I had to wait quite a while for them all to move on. I have a version with no people in it but decided I liked this one with a backpacker looking up at one of the temples.
The photo below shows what is left of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. This temple was home to the Pythia who sat upon a tripod and provided messages from the gods in answer to pilgrims’ questions. Unfortunately the answers were always worded as a riddle and could often be interpreted to align with the results, whichever way they fell!
I didn’t know this before visiting, but it turns out that Delphi means dolphin. Sure enough, while enjoying lunch at a restaurant on the sea not far away three dolphins appeared and spent quite a while playing in the water in front of us.
The Champa Hindu temples called My Son are a day trip from Hoi An. We went on an organised tour but wished we’d just rented a motorcycle and found our own way there.
There was one strange moment when we were close to the temples where they made us all get off the bus to follow it across what appeared to be a perfectly sturdy modern bridge. On the way out, they didn’t make us get off at all. It was odd.
It didn’t take me long to wander away from the tour group. Most of the site was damaged by American bombing in the Vietnam war. You could see the craters from bomb blasts all around. I was pretty happy when I found this guy still intact.
This temple is located in the Forbidden Purple City in Hue, Vietnam. You weren’t supposed to take photos inside the buildings. I bent the rules a bit by setting up my tripod just outside the door. I had a scary moment when, after deciding the doors needed to be symmetrical, I closed one slightly and felt like it was about to come off in my hand!
I keep thinking that I need to go back to Vietnam. I may need to make a return trip next year.
For viewing archaeological sites in something close to their natural state, it doesn’t get much better than Tikal. This temple has been excavated, but it’s sister, which was located behind me was still very much in the condition it was found in, buried and covered in trees. It looked just like a big hill.
We had the added bonus that we were on a sunset tour, meaning we started in the blazing afternoon heat that most tourists aren’t stupid enough to mess with. As a result, we had the whole place to ourselves. I thought it was worth it, though it officially marked the sweating through of every t-shirt I had brought to Guatemala on my second day there.
Back when Tikal was buzzing, the entire area was cleared of vegetation and paved with gleaming white stone. The temples and stele like those shown in the picture were painted in gaudy bright colours.
I found it interesting that the Mayans had flattened a large portion of the jungle for their city and farmland, considering that we have this idealized view that the ancient natives of the Americas lived in tune with nature.
So, I had my appendix out on Saturday night. Doing pretty well and glad it didn’t happen while I was off traveling somewhere. An old school teacher of mine once told a story of having to carry someone down off a mountain with a burst appendix. That scenario has stayed in the back of my mind. I’m actually glad I can head off into the wilderness without risk of appendicitis now.
Here’s another shot of one of the temples in Tikal.