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February 2, 2004

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More than Vietnamese live here. For centuries a people called the Chams defended central Vietnam, their homeland, from invading Vietnamese. Before the 11th century, modern Vietnam's territory lay divided between the Khmers in the South, the Chams in the center, and the Vietnamese in the North. Along with the Chinese and Mongols for added fun, these groups battled each other. The Vietnamese began rolling the country under their rule at the beginning of the 2nd millennium. They fought off Kublai Khan's Mongols and Chinese. The Khmers retreated to Cambodia. The Chams fell. As the traditional nemesis of the Vietnamese, bitter feelings ran high, and the Vietnamese destroyed the Chams after bitter struggles. Although the Chams lost, they left permanent remnants of their empire. Near Hoi An we find their biggest settlement at My Son, the oldest ruins in Vietnam.
Constructed by the Chams, the oldest buildings in Vietnam. Whereas the ancient Vietnamese used wood construction, the Chams used brick and built tall towers that have survived Time and American bombing. Actually, the Americans stopped bombing these ruins, in which VC guerillas hid, after a French archaeologist wrote President Nixon and complained that US efforts were destroying irreplaceable artifacts.
Can you believe the Chams were blond?
American jeeps left from the war. The jeeps remain in mint condition and still carry foreign invaders, nowadays tourists to the ruins at My Son.