Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Charmed by Hoi An

One of the fore-courts of a traditional 17th century Cantonese Temple.

With the trip up along the coast to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City seeming far too long at 30hrs, it was decided that we should split the journey up with a stop midway in the UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town of Hoi An. It was in no way a choice we regretted making. In fact, though the city can get quite touristy around midday and has a bit of a preserved feel to it, nearly everyone I've met who has been (including ourselves) says they wish they could have stayed longer.

Boats on the Thu Bon River.
In addition to being only 5km from a lovely 20km stretch of white sand beach which attracts the visitors of today, the city's placement on the Thu Bon river historically made it and excellent location for trade. Somehow spared from the bombs that rained down during the war, the Old Town along the river front boasts beautiful old 15th-19th century Vietnamese, Cantonese, Funanese, Japanese and European-style trading houses, temples and assembly halls alongside museums, excellent but inexpensive tailors and an ancient Japanese covered bridge. On nights of the full moon (which we sadly missed), all the lights in the centre are turned out and the town is lit by lanterns floating down the river. All in all, the city just oozes a relaxed sort of charm that makes you never want to leave. I'm also told the food is delicious but wasn't able to judge for myself due to illness. Guess I'll just have to go back.

A traditional fruit seller markets her wares.

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