Entrance to one of the Art Shops in Hoi An
So there we were, riding on a back of a motorcycle on a 4 hour journey towards Hoi An from Hue. It was an exciting ride speeding through the hi-ways of Vietnam. I felt I was the young Che Guevarra (hoping to look as well :P) of Motorcycle Diaries who traveled from Argentina to Chile. But the problem was I was really feeling sleepy during the trip, which is kind of dangerous when you’re on the back of the bike. Good thing our “Easy Rider” guide gave me a bubble gum to chew on to fight the sleepiness.
Old house facade
Hoi An, also called Faifo is one of UNESCO’s Heritage sites in Vietnam. This old riverside town also called the “Venice of Asia” used to be a major international trading port during the 16th and 17th century. Now this small town is known for its numerous tailor shops, art centers and well preserved blend of local and foreign architecture. Hoi An is somewhat the counterpart of our historical Vigan in the Philippines.
The Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An’s best known landmark
Going around Hoi An is best done by foot since vehicles are prohibited at major streets. Visiting various historical sites is done via coupon systems which may be purchased at $5 USD. The coupon would allow you to visit 5 attractions: one museum, one family house, one Chinese meeting hall, the art performance theater and either the Japanese Covered Bridge or the Quan Kong Temple. Well we didn’t buy a coupon since we’ll be there only for a short time, but despite that we were still able to go around.
The Fukien Chinese Congregation Hall
I won’t go much into history lessons as you can search through other stuffs on the net, first sight we visited is the Japanese Covered Bridge. Which is really a small covered bridge the design is okay but nothing monumental. Inside there are altars of different animals. On how this ended up here? I remember it’s about containing the dragon’s tail which causes earthquakes in Japan. Some kind of Fung Shui.
The boats have eyes
Walking further we reached the scenic river. Shops and stores are just about to open that morning. We noticed that each of the boats there have eyes. I’m not sure what they are for but I read somewhere that they are like “guardian eyes” for safe journey.
Exotic Rice Wines
Also at one of the shops we were able to see some exotic items like these Exotic Rice Wines. There were actual reptiles, cobras, scorpions inside the bottle. It was interesting enough how they got inside that small opening but I’m interested with the taste. The sales lady said it has potent qualities that are beneficial to your health. It has a potent price tag as well for a small bottle.
Conical hats galore at the Hoi An market
At the other end of Hoi An from the bridge is the Market, where you’ll find great bargains and goodies as well. We bought souvenir shirts and food as well. It was also a challenge to haggle here but I think we got some good prices for our goodies. We also bought lychees which is really cheap there so we would have a snack during our walk.
Lanterns lights up during the Full Moon Festival
The other attractions in Hoi An are the tailor shops. I’m sure a lot of women would be at home here as they can have their custom styled clothes done in a few hours. We’re not much of a clothes person so we just passed by most of these tailor shops.
Another interesting event we caught is the Full Moon Festival, happening every – you guessed it right! Full Moon! It was interesting to wonder the streets during those times as all electrical lights are turned off and only the lanterns are lit. So you get to feel how its like during the 16th and 17th century when there were no electricity. Also catch some cultural performances on a boat by the river.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.