We hired a car to take us at 5:30 AM from Hoi An to the Hindu temple complex of My Son, about an hour’s drive away. We arrived in such good time that the ticket office had yet to open and used our available time to share a coffee with our driver as we waited for the ticket office to open.
Our Driver’s Story
His personal story included a father who was a cook for the South Vietnamese government and was subsequently killed by North Vietnamese forces after the fall of Saigon. His mother was left with five children. Because of his father's alliance with the government of South Vietnam, the family were exiled to a remote mountain area. Agriculture was difficult in the mountains and his family lived on one meal a day for many years.
About a decade ago, he was able to move to Hoi An and found work as a driver. He had lived a difficult life, but was not resentful and had a wonderful, genuine smile. He was thankful to have a job and was focused squarely on the present and the future.
My Son Temples
We had decided to extract ourselves from bed at this ungodly hour to see the temples in good light and, more importantly, to avoid the bus loads of tourists who arrive mid-morning. “Beat the rush” feats such as this are becoming more and more difficult as everyone begins to adopt the same strategy. Eventually, we will all be getting up yesterday to enjoy today. At any rate, to our great surprise, we succeeded. So much so, that we were in fact the very first to show up at the gate, with only one other couple just behind.
As the gates of My Son opened, we had the temples to ourselves in a perfectly quiet morning shrouded in fog. Early morning extraction was worth it.
My Son is the main surviving architectural complex of the Champa dynasty; its oldest structures are believed to date back to the 4th century and the site was used until the 15th century. Parts of the temple complex were destroyed during the Vietnam War when the Viet Cong used the area as a base and American forces bombed it.
Arranging Transport to My Son, Vietnam
My Son can be easily reached from Danang or Hoi An. Arrange for a driver to take you ($15-$20 from Hoi An) or join a minibus tour ($5-$8/person) where “authentic” musicians and dancers will greet you at the temples.