Hoi An : 'Heritage is rather rich and multi-sided'
Hoi An Travel Blog› entry 141 of 268 › view all entries
Day two of falling in love with teeny-tiny, pretty little Hoi An. I just adore days when I know there‚Äôs nothing more complicated or physically demanding to do than just amble with camera slung over shoulder through beautiful Old Town streets and architecture. A slow start to the day. Trying not to fall head over heels for the girl at Hop Yen Guesthouse who takes an excruciating ‚Äúbut-I-don‚Äôt-mind‚ÄĚ length of time to make me Vietnamese sweet coffees whose name translates she tells me as ‚ÄúLilly Flower‚ÄĚ and possesses one of the prettiest most genuine smiles I‚Äôve seen in my life (she of course does not agree). When I move on tomorrow morning to Hue it‚Äôs this smile, as well as all of the other varying beauties and charms of Hoi An that will make me deeply regret my restless travel velocity at present through Southeast Asia.
I have spread my ‚Äėpaid activities‚Äô over my two here so have a few stubs left on my Old Town culture ticket. I visit the Folklore Heritage Museum to learn a little of the historical and cultural past of the region. It‚Äôs composed with a fair care and attention to detail although not always expanding on items on display as much as one might like. In homage to some of the ‚Äėpretty‚Äô and sometimes amusing translatory language to be found in such museums for the foreign visitor I reproduce the Introduction here. Not the funniest I‚Äôve read, but cute nonetheless :
‚ÄėThe folklore heritage in Hoi An are creamed from labour, fight and activities of many inhabitants living in this area from the Pre-protohistory period till now.
I stroll some more. I could stroll here, west to east and back again over and over and over. A little attractive pagoda temple that is free to enter on top of those I have seen on my 75,000VND ($4.30) ticket already. Another walk along the river side.
I continue on my way to Viet Phi Tailors and lovely, happy smiling Lina whom I actually have given my business to. It‚Äôs fabulous stuff. Perfect fit. A stitch-perfect pair of linen trousers (that pants to y‚Äôall Americans out there) and two linen shirts for $43 in total. Another happy customer. To ‚ÄėPay Forward‚Äô the recommendation that I received for Viet Phi and Lina that I had received in Saigon I‚Äôll pop her details at the bottom of this entry should you ever find yourself in Hoi An and in need of a perfect ‚Äėright first time‚Äô new suit.
Rolling on from midday I aimlessly continue to walk about time and find myself plunged into the midday madness of the central market area, down by the river dock here in Hoi An. This is a fabulously chaotic and cramped market. One of my favourite in Vietnam so far as although there is some tourist stalls on the periphery the heart of it is noisy, crowded, aromatic madness. Stepping through puddles of fish-water, ice melt and discarded produce. A sea of conical hats bobbing and rising like flotsam on a high tide as the ladies (always the ladies) get on with the hard, messy business of chopping and dispensing the meat and veg and fruit that is the life force of the fabulous food regime that exists in Hoi An. Incredibly narrow little slippery walkways under netting and canvas shading still pulsate with mopeds and bikes as much as anywhere else in town it seems.
I return to the market after a delicious lunch of another of the town‚Äôs traditional dishes Cau Lau (Heo / Pork). A kind of thicker noodle version of the ‚ÄėPho‚Äô noodle soup dishes to be found the length and breadth of Vietnam. Super cheap (12- 15,000VND / $0.75 - 0.85) and very, very nice. Knock yourself out at the price and have a couple of bowls if you wish! It‚Äôs about 14.00 now and two sides to the market are in full swing. Closer to the river edge, a ‚Äôbridge‚Äô of boats are all moored up together, and a hive of other smaller trading boats buzz around their bows. Produce; predominantly fresh fish being unloaded en masse in the shallow reed-woven baskets that exist in large quantity for the purpose here. Inside, back under the canvas awnings it‚Äôs obviously time for full swing siesta time.
In the evening I have been moved rooms by Hop Yen for reasons that are beyond me, but don't particularly care although it means a fair old hike right to the top floor of the guesthouse. Here I will be sharing a room for one night with Doug from Canada, a man who started travelling at 21 years of age 20 years ago and has rarely stopped doing so since. I had planned for nothing more than writing and a photographic tour of the lantern-lit town by night tonight but as is constantly the case with travelling the enactment of such ‚Äôscheduled‚Äô private plans is often rendered impossible by the infinite ‚Äôgetting to know you‚Äô obligations of travel and FMFs.
I have to scratch my night photo pleasures (so sorry no pretty snaps!) in favour of riverside beer and chat with Doug but this is fine. Par for the course when backpacking. One beautiful activity replaced by another interesting personality collected. We hit the south bank of the river and sink 7 beers and 2 bowls of Cau Lau each for under $3...ridiculously cheap! Proving once again that you meet the strangest and most ‚Äėinteresting‚Äô of people whilst on the road; Doug‚Äôs day job on the rare occasions he‚Äôs back home in Canada? He‚Äôs the body parts double (specifically the hands) of some character Guyas Baltar (???) from the TV show Battlestar Galactica.
[ Appendix : 'Top Tailor' ]
The fabulously friendly Lina and family can be found at Viet Phi tailors. Pleasingly they're away from the main hustle of town by virtue of being on the south side of the river. Cross the bridge just south and east along the promenade from the Japanese Bridge on to the An Hoi Peninsula. As you come off the bridge briefly walk right and take the first road on your left. This is Ngo Quyen street. Viet Phi are about 300 yards down on the left. Number 82. You can't miss its big open front crowded with finely dressed manequins. Tel : 05106.279 234 or e-mail : lina_trang_2000@yahoo.