Hoi An

Right: Historic Hoi An

From Hue I trundled on down to Danang to pick up a Laos visa and then on to Hoi An to relax by the beach for a few days. Hoi An is very touristy but is nonetheless a great little town to spend a bit of time in, relaxing.

In it's day Hoi An was a trading hub on a par with Melaka and Macau and an important port of call for vessels of many nations. The history is still very evident as you wander around exploring the old part of town.

Hoi An

Caodaism

I hadn't heard of the Caodai religion before coming to Vietnam. It's a peculiar synthesis of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, spiritualism, Christianity and Islam. Their "Saints" are also an odd bunch which includes the likes of Victor Hugo, Louis Pasteur, Lenin, William Shakespeare, Rene Descartes and joan of Arc.

Caodaism, the invention of a Cochin civil servant was a synthesis of the three religions (Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism). The holy see was at Tanyin. A Pope and female cardinals. Prophesy by planchette. Saint Victor Hugo, Christ and Buddha looking down from the roof of the cathedral on a Walt Disney fanasia of the East, dragons and snakes in technicolour.

Graham Greene, "The Quiet American"

Right Caodai Temple in Hoi An

Hoi An has a Caodai temple so I thought I'd check it out. The resident priest was a nice old bloke. Curiously our conversation also seemed to be a weird synthesis of French, English, Chinese and Vietnamese. Mutual intelligibility was not always assured though the old chap didn't seem at all fazed. The temples are characterised by the depiction of an eye in a circle. The eye was apparently seen in a vision by the religion's founder Ngo Minh Chieu. Lord of the Rings stuff, eh?

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My Son

My Son

While in Hoi An I took the time to visit My Son. No, not my illegitimate child, but an ancient city. My Son is a relic of the kingdom of Champa and was occupied from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Unfortunately much of it was bombed by the Americans as the Viet Cong had set up a base there though there is ongoing restoration and what remains is nonetheless, still quite impressive.

Left: Among the ruins at My Son, ancient Cham relic.