|Hoi An||Merchant Houses||My Son Sanctuary|
|Japanese Bridge||Phuc Kien Community Hall||Cua Dai beach|
|Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation|
Hoi An town is small and peaceful, the kind of place where you may get stuck for a few days, whether it is intentional or not. Originally known as Faifo, this antique town is bordered on its southern side by the Thu Bon River, along which there's a number of small cafes. Despite the fact that it is now a tourist haven, the artistic atmosphere and local friendly people create an inviting environment.
Hoi An was an important port developed in 17th century and remained so for a long time. There used to be canals parallel to the streets, so merchandise could be loaded straight from the back of houses onto the boats. Hoi An's continuance as a port lasted right up until the early years of the 20 century, when the river became silted up forcing the cargo ships to call at Da Nang instead.
In the past Hoi An has been used by the Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the large remaining Chinese community where all sorts of produce and wares were traded. Remnants of these past traders' influences can still be seen lining the streets of Hoi An. There are nine different types of historical sites in Hoi An with an average age of 200 years. They include private houses, family chapels, community halls, communal houses, temples, pagodas, bridges, wells and tombs. Many of these buildings have been maintained close to their original form, allowing you imagination to recreate a prosperous trading town. The houses are small and colorful with wooden doors and two round "wooden house's eyes" above, window shutters and ornamental furniture. A pleasant change from the iron bars and metal grates of other towns.
Hoi An is full of shops selling artwork, from lifelike memorial family portraits, to stylized images of Hoi An houses and streets. Next door to the art shops are places selling souvenir statues, ceramic plates, and ‘antique’ bowls. At the market place beside the river, you can pick up almost anything you want. Tourists are often being lured into the markets to buy silk and to have quality garments tailor made. You can have anything from dresses and trousers to shirts and hats made for a cheap price.
Another noticeable quality of Hoi An is its relative silence. There are few cars and people do not feel the urge to use their horns every two seconds. The streets are filled with the hum of voices, motorbikes and the shuffling of thongs along the ground. Hoi An is small enough to get around on foot, and you will need a set of wheels if you are going to Cue Dai Beach, or on a day trip to the Marble Mountains or Da Nang.
A relaxing activity around sunset is to hire a boat from the waterside by the market place. Many of the locals will wait on the river and offer you this service throughout the day and night.
Many of the old merchant houses are lived in by the locals, but fortunately are beautifully preserved. They ca be typically described as having a narrow and lofty interior with a barrel vault ceiling. The street entrance has a shop front where the merchant used to display his goods. This is still used for his purpose n modern Hoi An with its numerous galleries and antique shops. There is also a back room where the merchant's family, apprentices and servants lived. The entire inside of the house is made of deeply polished hardwood. Walls, columns and entrances are decorated with poems, words, symbols, and patterns. Much of the heavy ornate furniture are originals, however some pieces are replicas. Private houses in this style open to travelers include Tan Ky House that has staff that speak fluent English and French.
This bridge was built in 1953 by the Japanese, although this may be hard to pick by its name! Its base is made of stone and the rest of ironwood, jackwood and other hardwoods. The bridge's purity has been ruined over time with Chinese and Vietnamese ornamentation. There is a pagoda built into one side of the bridge. The bridge is still used as a popular thoroughfare and is on the western end of Tran Phu street.
This is a Chinese Community Hall, but has other uses as a temple, shrine, place of ancestor worship, and a venue for conferences. The Chinese maintain practicality in their worship but since most things in life ca not be guaranteed, superstition also plays a large part in their religious beliefs. The rear contains an altar dedicated to the three gods of health, wealth, and longevity. Three is even a goddess who will stop your baby crying for a sufficient tip. Other community and assembly halls include: the Hainan Chinese Assembly, the ChaoZhou Assembly Hall etc.
This is beside the Japanese Bridge at 176 Tran Phu street and is a very well maintained, bright and colorful assembly hall. It was founded in 1786 and shoes must be removed before entering.
My Son has what is arguably the best collection of Cham art and architecture in a natural setting in Vietnam. It is somewhat of an arduous journey to get out there, but is well worth the effort. It is easier to get there than going to Angkor and if you do visit My Son, you will have a taste of what Angkor must look like. Though some of the monuments were destroyed during the war or taken by thieves, what remains is still considerable. Many of the structures are overgrown with dense vegetation but you can still enter some of them.
This beach is the closest one to Hoi An. It is very beautiful and is well worth a visit to cool off from the heavy heat. The only eyesore are the bizarre changing huts and bungalows. It is an incredibly long beach with loads of room to wander off to do a bit of personal reconnoitering. If you spend a day at the beach and should decide to use one of the deckchairs available, you will be asked to buy either a baguette, a tasty pineapple or a drink. Otherwise you will have to pay for the chair rental. All the prices sought are inflated, but the pineapples in particular are delicious.