Hội An is a city on the coast of the South China Sea in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam. Hội An ancient town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.
The typical houses which are constructed with a timber frame are arranged side-by-side in tight, unbroken rows along narrow pedestrian streets. The original street plan, which developed as the town became a port still remains today. Typically, the buildings front the streets for convenient customer access while the backs of the buildings open to the river allowing easy loading and off-loading of goods from boats.
This wooden Japanese bridge was first constructed here in the 1590s by the Japanese community in order to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream.
The structure is solidly constructed because of the threat of earthquakes. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original understated Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for their motor vehicles, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986.
The typical way of travel around Hoi An:
Floating a lantern on the river, for good fortune:
Typical dinner places. First we thought it’s a joke to make grown people sit on tiny chairs and tables, but it does make sense. People take less space and don’t block views:
View from the main bridge by night:
Small shops selling these beautiful traditionally colored and handcrafted lanterns:
A married couple posing for pictures in front of the lanterns 🙂
Hoi An owes its easygoing provincial demeanour and old-town character more to luck than planning. Had the Thu Bon river not silted up in the late 19th century – so ships could no longer access the town’s docks – Hoi An would doubtless be very different today. For a century, the city’s allure and importance dwindled until an abrupt rise in fortunes in the 1990s, when a tourism boom transformed the local economy. Today Hoi An is once again a cosmopolitan melting pot, one of the nation’s most wealthy towns, a culinary mecca and one of Vietnam’s most important tourism centers.
This revival of fortunes has preserved the face of the Old Town and its legacy of tottering Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses – though, of course, residents and rice fields have been gradually replaced by tourist businesses. Lounge bars, boutique hotels, travel agents and a glut of tailor shops are very much part of the scene here. And yet, down by the market and over on Cam Nam Island you’ll find life has changed little.
Children help sell the floating lanterns at night. We just hope they go to school by day:
One of the many tailor shops. Hoi An has a long tradition of copying but also making up new garments for travelers. One can bring in clothes (or even a picture of clothes) that you want copied to any tailor shop and they will try to imitate it…
You pay a few Vietnam Dong, get blindfolded, spun around and a club is placed in your hand. Then you take two steps forwards and swing your bat at the clay pots hanging from above. You win if you manage to hit it. As the candidates try their luck the crowed cheers and laughs and are fueled by a moderator. It is unexpectedly funny to see how the most confident candidates can not understand how they missed the pots 🙂
Have we not mentioned yet how delicious the food is? It was gone so quickly we only managed to take pictures of the deserts:
Best way to get around Hoi An is by bike:
Our place at the “hidden beach”. There was an actual sign pointing out the direction to the hidden beach. But since we were the only ones there it might be hidden after all…
Besides a place in the shade you can order delicious food at hardly any cost (~2USD):
Back in Hoi An town:
Enjoying a cold beer on one of the terraces:
And watching the people going after their business:
For dinner: rice noodles, stir-fried beef, crunchy salad, herbs & peanuts for 5 USD:
And sesame crusted red tuna, coconut, lime, wasabi sauce, mustard cress salad for 9 USD:
And two very delicious desserts (priceless!) 🙂
More impressions from straying around:
A very common scenery: rice fields as far as you can see.
But it’s always worth having close looks:
While we were in Hoi An we stayed in a “homestay” place with a Vietnamese family. Quyen the landlady was amazingly friendly and always had a smile on her face. She took such good care of us it almost felt like home 🙂
Of course we got typical Vietnamese breakfast dishes served every morning:
And we could not leave without having our picture taken with her:
The home stay was definitely a very nice experience. Our landlady Quyen spoke good English and from the moment we first arrived, we felt extremely welcome. We were given great advice about where to visit, and what restaurants to eat at, and were even provided bikes to ride there. Lucky the dog was also gorgeous! Would definitely recommend staying here to anyone who is looking to get an authentic experience of Vietnamese life with a beautiful family.This entry was posted in Asia, WorldMap