Monday, June 21, 2010
VIETNAM: THE MARBLE MOUNTAINS
Like our own Niagara Falls, Vietnam has allowed a lot of crappy souvenir shops to glom onto some astonishing geological formations. The Marble Mountains are a case in point. They're known as the source for Vietnam's marble carvings, as they are literally made of marble. However, to avoid decimating a tourist mecca, the Vietnamese have halted excavations and now import all the marble that's carved here.
Walking up the mountain you pass through as ancient entrance pocked with mortar shells from the war.
Look up. Look way up...
At the peak, we descend into a cave as magestic as any cathedral. It's been a natural Buddhist shrine for centuries. The Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) used it as a fortified field hospital.
It's filled with monuments: Some garish to Western eyes, like a lot of the art here, that go back a hundred years; others carved into the walls the better part of a millennia ago. Note the shrine INSIDE the cave...
We left the mountain and drove through the rain to Hoi An.
Hoi An is an amazing Unesco World Heritage sight, and I'll show it to you in depth with photos from a sunnier day. But next post is going to be all about LANTERNS! Especially BRIGHTLY LIT LANTERNS!