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An hour’s drive from Hoi An is the ancient World Heritage Hindu site of My Son (pronounced Me Sohn). Seventy Cham temples were built between the 4th and 13th century.  The twenty remaining temples are being restored under difficult circumstances given the area’s heat, humidity and propensity to flooding. In the 1930s, French archaeologists identified all of the periods represented at the site and began the first restoration work. In its original state, the site was comparable to temple complexes at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobodur in Indonesia and Bagan in Myanmar.

Around fifty of the temples were destroyed in August 1969 when My Son, known to be a base for North Vietnamese guerrilla fighters, was carpet bombed by American B52s. Bomb craters are evident across the site. Unexploded ordnances are known to exist in the surrounding areas.

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To assist with the conservation of the Old Town of Hoi An and to gain access to some of the historic buildings, the purchase of an Old Town ticket is required. This afternoon we used one of the five tabs on that ticket to visit the Tan Ky House, a two hundred year old building that has housed nine generations of the same family. It’s a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese design.

The family still lives in the house that is regularly subjected to flooding from the river. They have a pulley system installed to raise the ground floor furniture each time the river breaches its banks.

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Last night after dinner in the company of a Canadian woman, we watched, from our “fresh beer” drinking vantage point, young couples participating in the Pot Breaking Game. Blindfolded and armed with a stick to smash a small clay pot, they competed for prizes of lanterns and purses amidst much hilarity when the target was missed. The position of the pot was adjusted to match the height of the contestant.

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This place has a way of slowing down your pace when you stay for more than a few days. The rainy season also dictates whether a stroll is in or out of the question. This morning we ate breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe, a business venture started by two young Vietnamese women. They specialise in coffee, cold-pressed juices and all-day (until 3 pm) breakfasts.

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Here are some of the highlights from this morning’s walk in the weather break, which included a wander through the food markets.

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What a treat this museum was. A tribute to the history of ceramic tiles in Portugal, and a few Dutch tiles thrown in for good measure. Here’s a representative sample.

I will attribute the pieces and artists at a later date when more time’s available.

Lisbon - Museu Azulejo 1

Turtles in the courtyard setting of the cafeteria.

Lisbon - Museu de Azulejo 2

Best sign for Ladies and Gents ever!

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The site of the Museum was originally a church.

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Lisbon - Museu de Azulejo 8

 

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We visited a dozen temples around Bagan on a day when the thermometer reached 43 degrees C. Everywhere you look in this region, there’s a pagoda to be seen. The interiors provided some level of comfort from the heat, with the occasional breeze wafting through some corridors.

The people selling local crafts, drinks and mangoes were doing it tough today. Rob bought two mangoes and delighted the women by borrowing their knife and demonstrating the easy way to cut and eat the flesh (with a blunt knife). They declared it ‘very clever’.

A few of the temples didn’t allow inside photography. It was almost impossible to make out the frescoes at Gubyaukgyi. As I was leaving, an elderly woman, whose face was richly adorned with thanaka paste, insisted I go back in. Some local people had arrived and a guide had activated the lighting system. Think light globe on a selfie stick, only with a very, very long cord.

The paths to the temples were so hot today, people were running to get to a cool spot to land their bare feet.

I’ve pared down the photographs to give you some idea of the diversity of temples, architectural styles and decoration.

 

Shwezigon Pagoda

Shwezigon Paya - zedi

Shwezigon Paya - zedi and tree decorShwezigon Paya - tree decoration detail

Pyat Thut Gi

Pyat Gi Thut exterior

Sulamani Pahto (my favourite, largely because of the detailed frescos and decorations)

Sulamani Pahto - entranceSulamani Pahto - exterior detailSulamani Pahto - vaulted ceiling detailSulamani Pahto - fresco 2Sulamani Pahto - interior frescoSulamani Pahto - fresco 4Sulamani Pahto - pedastal detailSulamani Pahto - fresco 3

Dhammayangyi Pahto

Dhammayangyi Pahto - exterior

Dhammayangyi Pahto - Sleeping BuddhaDhammayangyi Pahto - marionettes for sale

Ananda Pahto (under considerable restoration)

Ananda Pahto - exterior - stupaAnanda Pahto - grounds - restorationAnanda Pahto - restoration work

Ananda Pahto - scaffold around Buddha

Lunch at Moon Restaurant (Be Kind to Animals) – a cool spot to rehydrate.

Moon Restaurant - garden parasols

Than Daw Ga Pagoda

ThanDawGa Pagoda - Buddha - lava stone - earthquake restoration

Nagayon Pagoda

Nagayon Temple 2Nagayon Temple

In 1784, King Bodawpaya and his Burmese Army seized an ancient bronze Buddha and transported it to this current site in Mandalay. In the gallery at Mahamuni, large paintings created in the 1950s tell the story of its epic journey.

Except for the face of the Buddha, which is polished by a monk every morning at 4 o’clock, the surface is covered in a six inch layer of gold, as a result of years of the application of gold leaf. Only male visitors to the pagoda are allowed to near the inner sanctum and place the leaf on the Buddha. The second photograph in this post was taken by my husband. I had a view further back with the women.

Mayamuni Paya - picture galleryMahamuni Paya - Mandalay 3 May 2015Mahamuni Paya 2

Mahamuni Paya precinct

Ceramic jars like these are found all over Burma for people as accessible sources of cold drinking water.

Water Jars at Mahamuni Paya

For the first couple of nights in Nai Yang Beach, we ate in an open air restaurant on the beach. Last night, with a storm on the way, we chose a place with undercover options. The lightning show did not disappoint.

It’s been a relaxing day today. Breakfast on the beach with a lizard as companion, a ten-minute trip to Nai Thon beach for lunch and a change of scenery.

Tomorrow we will be on our way to the airport by 5.15 am to travel to Mandalay via Bangkok. This afternoon, we’ll take another beach swim in water so salty that it’s impossible not to float in it.

Evening storm - Nai Yang - 29 April 2015Lizard - Nai Yang beach - 30 April 2015Frangipani - Nai Thon BeachNai Thon Beach - 30 April 2015