Saturday, May 03, 2008

Scorching Hoi An

The drive from Hue to Hoi An was scenic. Tall mountains rise on one side and the sea spans on the other. I was amazed at the 6-kilometer tunnel that we passed through; I swear that was the longest tunnel I've seen (wala sya sa Surigao). The ride also took us through Danang, said to be Vietnam's third largest city. I was quite impressed with the long stretch of white sand beach found in Danang; I bet it would become a major tourist destination soon having seen a number of resort and condominium constructions all over the place.

We reached Hoi An at about noon. Hoi An is a major trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries, drawing a large influx of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and European merchants, thus establishing the city's unique architecture. Fortunately, it was spared of the devastation of war as well as mindless urbanization. The old buildings, mostly composed of congregation halls, old houses, temples, bridges, and shops, are well-preserved and height and building restrictions are well enforced. The old town serves as a centerpiece of the World Heritage Site.

However, my first impression of Hoi An is its humidity. Damn, I was sweating like I just came from an orgy. Add to that the dust that just pervades the air as a result of its location (pretty close to the river and the sea) and the massive road construction that is taking place all over the town. I found a hotel by the river and close to the central market. Save for its nice location, the hotel has nothing to brag about and it is expensive. I've had better rooms at cheaper prices.

I wasted no time exploring the town despite the scorching midday sun. After lunch, I went to a tailor to have a two-piece suit made... for only $50 dollars. Yes, you read that right. Hoi An is also famed for its quick made-to-order clothes. I already have a scheduled fitting at 10 am tomorrow! Ugh, Hoi An is such a shopping quick sand. Cheap shoes, lanterns, paintings, ceramics and all over the place, I had to hold tight to my wallet otherwise I'd go on a spending spree.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on visiting the old houses, temples, congregation halls, and museums. I truly admire how they preserved these historical masterpieces. They don't appear Disneyfied at all. The preservation is not over the top and I can still feel the authenticity of the place. In fact, most owners still live in the buildings, on the second floor of their shops.
The interiors of most cafes and restaurants in the old town are also to die for. I was hopping from one cafe to another not for their food or drinks but just to check out their decor.

Later in the afternoon I checked some hostels and guesthouses if they still have available rooms as I could not really stand my hotel. But then, all of the places I could afford are fully booked. So two nights at my current hotel then. Ugh.

Tomorrow, I'd explore more of the old town and if I actually have some extra time I might head off to the beach.

(P.S. I'm honestly missing Bangkok now. I wanna go home na.)


bkkdreamer said...

You take such marvellous pictures. I like the one at the top showing the street, and the next one down, the building interior with all the woodwork, which could be a hotel.

I have never visited places like that...and I did not know Vietnam could be so beautiful. The parts you are showing in your blog look very different from Thailand.

kawadjan said...

hi bkk dreamer... vietnam is quite photogenic in its own way. unlike thailand, which is all about the burst of colors, vietnam is about shapes and shadows. it's very lovely indeed.

still, my heart is in thailand. :-)


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