Old Town Hoi An is an example of a well preserved SouthEast Asian trading port dating back to the 15th to 19th centuries. It is a UNESCO World heritage site. Its buildings and street plan reflect indigenous and foreign influences that have been combined to produce this unique heritage site. It reflects an amalgamation of local with Chinese, Japanese and even European influences.
Narrow pedestrian streets lined by tightly packed unbroken rows of houses is the hall mark of Hoi An. The houses are tiled and have a timber frame with brick and wooden walls. A ferry quay, an open market, religious buildings and pagodas complete the town apart from the row of dwellings. One peculiarity of these buildings is that the front faces the road for easy customer access and the back faces the ferry quay enabling easy loading and unloading during the trading period. The streets are also in grid pattern and one can easily lose one’s way as the streets look so identical!
The entire area is a state property and this has helped preserve its original look. No modern buildings are allowed here although regular maintenance and restoration work is undertaken.
Hoi An is situated near Danang city and we did a day trip to Hoi An from Danang.
A visit to Ancient Town Hoi An involves lot of walking. If one has to experience the street and its people, one has to walk along the streets, bargain with the locals, taste their food and visit their religious monuments. This is exactly what we did.
Since most streets cannot accommodate buses, we engaged buggies to visit some of the shops.
The typical buggies
The buggy took us to the central area of the old town.
A board welcomed us to this old town with its old world charm….
The board and the cycle rickshaw
Typical streets in Hoi An and of course the colourful lanterns are not to be missed!!
The Hoi An Riverside
Most of the roads lead to the riverside which is part of the old trading port of Hoi An . This part is lined by cafes , bistros, bars, and restaurants and offers various local delicacies. Pavement vendors throng the place in the evening .
This part gets lit up with lanterns in the evenings making it a beautiful sight.
The beautifully lit riverfront at dusk
Walking along the streets of Hoi An , I managed to capture a shot of a typical Vietnamese fruit seller . But I must confess, the look on her face made me feel sad. Though she became the subject of a colourful photograph for me, the harsh realities of her daily life reflect on her face….
A typical Vietnamese fruitseller
Accompanied by our guide, we walked along the crisscross streets of Hoi An.
One of the main attractions we visited was the Japanese Bridge.
The Japanese Bridge
It is believed that this was built by the Japanese to reach the Chinese quarter across the river. It is covered with a roof and is made of wood. The bridge is one of the iconic images of Hoi An.
The Japanese Bridge
Phuc Kien Temple
This temple serves both as a place of worship and as an assembly hall or meeting place for the Chinese. It was built by people from Fujian in China who had settled down at Hoi An.
The grand portico of the temple stands out with its pink colour. Once we enter, there is a yard with statues, bonsai and fountains. Another section of the temple has a huge table like a conference hall.
The heady smell of incense hits one as one enters the temple. It was only much later that I realised that the red spirals seen hanging from the ceiling are actually incense sticks. These sticks had tags with names of family members who had made the offerings.
The pink exteriors of Phuc Kien Temple
The incense spirals
The Old House of Tan Ky
Aged over a couple of centuries, this house is one of the preserved ancient houses at Hoi An. It has a mix of Chinese and Japanese architecture.
The house is packed with wooden antiques and one lady guide escorted us around the house and highlighted the features of the house. At many places, the walls have a line along its walls, showing the water level at the time of flooding of Hoi An.
The board displayed outside the Tan Ky house
Guide explaining the inside features of the heritage house
The Chinese alphabets made of bird images at the heritage house
Ba Mu Temple
A traditional Vietnamese temple, the architecture was really beautiful. Some pictures…
The Ba Mu Temple
Massage parlours dot the streets of Hoi An.
After a tiring day walking along the streets of Hoi An in the humid climate, some of us decided to go in for a relaxing massage at one of the innumerable massage parlours here.
A foot massage in progress
Hoi An Memories show
After the round up of this ancient town, we were booked for a show called Hoi An Memories. It portrays the story of Hoi An over the years. Very colourful and musical, it was a visual treat indeed.
If we could understand the language of the songs, the stories would have been more clear, that’s what I felt. But the presentation, visual impacts, the properties used and the upkeep of the complex was good. Unfortunately, rain played spoil sport halfway through and we had to move into to safer seats. That added to the adventure…Some pictures..
The illuminated open air theatre complex
The entrance and the inside of the complex
The climax scene of the show
Half drenched, we all got into our bus and reached the hotel in anticipation of our tour to the Ba Na Hills the next day. What we did at Ba Na Hills will form the subject of my next blog. I can only tell you, it turned out to be another adventurous trip!!
Till then do keep your comments, likes, feedback flowing in.
See you next week at Ba Na….