There are many excursions one can take from Mui Ne if one gets fed up with lying on the beach, swimming with the waves, tanning oneself, eating at fabulous fish restaurants, enjoying wind-surfing etc.
We hired a taxi this morning to visit the Po Chanu cham towers which date from the 9th century. The beautiful archaeological site consists of the ruins of three towers, some of which are in better shape than others. There’s a very pleasant garden surrounding them.
Th quality of the brickwork of the towers is stunning and the colour is a rich red. Inside the system of vaulting reminded me a little of the ceilings of Etruscan tombs. All the towers had a still-working shrine inside and one of them had an original lingam.
I climbed to the top of the hill where there was a war memorial and some bunkers since this was also the site of an important victory of the Vietnamese against French colonialism.
The views were quite stunning stretching out over the bay of Mui Ne.
There’s a small pagoda on the site, as well as a gallery and shop.
In South-East Asia it’s truly a question for a westerner of having to start learning history again. There was nothing taught at school relating to this part of the world. For example I had not even heard of the Chams before coming here. Who were the people who built these temples?
The Cham people are one of Southeast Asia‘s many ethnic groups and live in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
Cham today are descended from those founders of the Kingdom of Champa which flourished from the seventh to the eighteenth century and were the architects of those beautiful towers we visited.
Strangely enough, Chams who are traditionally Hindu in religion are Muslim in Cambodia.
In recent times there was a Cham independence movement but the signs are that modern Chams are fully integrated – in Vietnam, at least.
This is the secessionist flag:
Because traditional Vietnamese architecture was of wood and because the Chams used durable materials to build their temples the Cham towers remain the oldest monuments in Vietnam today.