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Study Abroad

Exploring Da Nang Cultural Treasures

January 04, 2019

Dragon bridge

Team Vietnam on the first evening in front of the Dragon Bridge

Overall, the Cham Culture Museum allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the many cultures that are intertwined into Vietnamese culture today.
Bailee Duquette  

Our first full day in Da Nang brought us a walking tour of the city. Shari-Lee Whyte and Mikey Salem provide us with their observations.  

Shari-Lee Whyte, Fashion Design Major '19

After getting some much needed rest and recovery from jet lag, Lasell College students set out on a day of full cultural immersion in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. The day started with a visit to the Cham Sculpture Museum. We

Cham Museum

were able to witness firsthand the intricacies of the sand stone sculptured created by the Champa people. Once a sovereign nation, the Champa kingdom had many religious deities that are still present in modern Hinduism. At the entrances of the exhibit, there were guardian sculptures that may have been placed by the temple gateways of the Champa kingdom. Sculptures of Shiva and Ganesh were most represented throughout the exhibition. After being conquered by Vietnam as well as suffering from damage (both environmental and natural), many of the sculptures are missing pieces, but their meanings are still quite clear.  

Like modern Hinduism, the Champa people had many pieces depicting fertility. This was viewed as a natural part of life through a far more spiritual eye than how we see fertility today. Recurring pieces throughout the exhibition were bases decorated with female breasts and various representations of phallic-like sculptures with particular meanings for each of the three parts making up the phallus.  

Animals were also a big form of symbolism for the Champa people and there were quite a few spiritual animal beings scattered throughout the musShari photoeum with the Lion, Dragon, and Snake just to name a few. These animals were either standing alone or were part of bigger sculptures as companions or even clothing (many of the guardian sculptures had cobras wrapped around their bodies).   

Lastly, what I found interesting was the way the deities were dressed. Wrapped in cloth with their chests exposed and adorned in beads and sometimes elaborate headpieces, the fine details in these sculptures truly withstood the test of time.   

Museum photos courtesy of Shari-Lee Whyte  

Michael Salem, Journalism Major

Da Nang, Vietnam is bathed in pastel pink and an aurora of lights along illuminating the damp sidewalks with a rainbow glow. It smells like rain and sounds like loud belly laughter with your best mates. Conversations seem to grow in decibels as crowds fill out little restaurants and cafes.

Upon exiting your hotel, you're warmly greeted by speeding mopeds and vehicular horns blaring like fireworks across the Southeast Asian metropolis. A plethora of businesses await at every step to greet you and turn you into a customer. Bartering is thriving here and locals seem to enjoy competing with a  customer for a price.

Jet lag keeps you at a modicum of exhaustion but caffeine rich bittersweet coffee marries sweetened condensed milk in an icy cá phê sữa đá. The bold coffee, a renowned Vietnamese export, remedies tired eyes after the intercontinental flight for those who seek to see the city at first glance. Streams of cafes dot the roads in a never ending this young city. 20-something year olds flock to aesthetic coffee shops for a morning joe in a quiet atmosphere complimented with dark stained wood and lacquered furniture.

Shops and spas line the sidewalks selling round and rectangular wicker purses, intricate floral embroidery, and grandiose displays of flower arrangements outside the abundance of florists. Fresh fruit and vegetables are sold in bowls on the ground by conical hatted women by the street's edge. Friendly interactions run like tap water as strangers wish you a happy new year and store employees are happy to help you discover the best of their beautiful city. Fashion is contemporary and high end among the Vietnamese youth. Clothing is sold at a lower cost and name brands, like Adidas and Supreme, become much more affordable as many of their garments are manufactured here. Vietnamese jewelry is astoundingly cheaper than their American counterparts and popularly sold as gold and jade ornamented bracelets, rings, and earrings displayed in a U of glittering counter displays.

The city, it's citizens, and every statue of Buddha in Da Nang welcomes you to the country and wishes you well on your travels within.