It was a 5.00 am pick-up at the hotel for the tour to Mi Son, here known as Mi Son Holy Land or Mi Son World Culture Heritage. Pre-dawn I'm standing in front of some house in the suburbs of Hoi An with a bunch of young French, Scottish and Germans, eating a fresh bread roll torn open by hand with a fried egg inside. Then about an hour's drive into increasingly rural areas. The advantage of that early start is we are the only group at Mi Son. There is the sound of the birds and the chatter and laughter of unseen people working on the restoration of G complex, currently closed.
Mi Son was the centre of the Cham Kingdom from the 4th to 11th centuries. In places there is brickwork that was restored by UNESCO in 1999 and you can recognise the original bricks as the ones that look more recent. The craftsmanship is mind-boggling. Most of the significant stone relics are in the Cham museum in Hue which I visited the other day. The tour guide pointed out the headless Shiva statues and told us that one theory is that the Americans beheaded them to terrorise the VC. She pointed out bomb craters, and asked the group who knew about Mi Lai. I think only a couple of us nodded. Someone asked, why did the US bomb Mi Son? The VC were hiding here, she explained.
We were delivered back to the hotel in time to have a second breakfast - yay!