Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hangin' in Hoi An

Hoi An is a lovely little town just 20 minutes south of Da Nang... it's one of the few historic towns to have survived Vietnam's many recent wars essentially unscathed.  Once a major port and trading center between the 15th and 19th centuries, its river then silted up in the late 19th century (trading traffic was diverted to nearby Da Nang) and the town was basically preserved as is, with over 800 historical buildings still intact.

Now the town is a major tourist draw, having been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It's agreat place to walk around because the central part of the town is cut off for motorized vehicles, so you can do some serious strolling and sight-seeing.  Plus, it ain't bad just sitting and drinking some ca phe sua da or a beer by the riverside.

Even though it's a tourist town, it's still got a bustling central market and lots of locals going about their business:

We stayed in a cute little hotel, the Ha An hotel, which has a French-style courtyard full of palm trees and bamboo.  Plus the door to our room was flanked by 2 be-bowed mandarin orange trees and these funny little guard dogs:

Climbing up to the top of our hotel gave us a view of Hoi An's rooftops and the mountains in the distance:

Our hotel, all lit up for the evening, viewed through my fogged-up camera lens:

I loved this guy below, just smokin' a cigarette, shirtless, above one of Hoi An's many tailors.  At some point Hoi An became known as a spot for fabric and tailors... since then, over 500 tailors have opened up shop in the small town, all offering you the "best price" and responding "maybe later!," "happy hour!!," or "why not?!" when you decline.  Tim wanted to have a suit made and I wanted to have a blazer I like copied, and yet we ended up walking out of the tailor's shop (recommended both by our hotel and the Lonely Planet book) with 3 suits and 2 blazers.  Oops!    Hoi An is also known for custom-made shoes... we ended up with 5 pairs between the two of us.  

The best part of our experience at the tailor, though, was when the seamstress asked if Tim wanted extra room in the waist of his suit pants for beer.  Then she asked how many beers Tim could drink... 10?  She informed us, very matter of factly, that her husband could drink 20.  NBD.

We captured this woman pulling some water from the well located just in front of the town's central market.  Is it one of the special cao lau wells?  I don't know, but let's pretend it is, because it's the only one I have a photo of:

Walking around Hoi An during the day was a bit brutal because of the heat.  Most of the locals seemed to disappear mid-day to hang out in a hammock.  We probably should have done the same, and yet there we were, walking around, sweating our asses off and quickly becoming dehydrated (or as they call it in Indonesia, "possessed by spirits").  Best cure for dehydration?  Drinking coconut water while sitting on a tiny, tiny stool:

Cyclos, cyclos everywhere.  These were taking a break from the heat of the day:

This lady brought each of these large, bamboo bird cages out to the porch, one at a time, feeding each one and talking to them.  Pretty cute:

The architecture in Hoi An was really beautiful... big welcoming store fronts with apartments above, all painted this pretty goldenrod color, cool detail scattered throughout.  Plus the greenery everywhere...

I just thought these ladies were cute, chatting at their mini-shop outside another one of Hoi An's tailors. And the women below, all in matching conical hats, taking a breather in front of one of Hoi An's many souvenir shops (

Below is an example of what most young women in Vietnam wear during the day... regular clothes (usually skinny jeans and a little blouse) supplemented by several items intended to protect their skin from the sun.  My photo captured the 2 basic varieties:  1) on the left, the thin, zip-up, hoodie jacket with flaps coming off the end of the sleeves to cover your hands, and 2) on the right, hat, bandit scarf to protect face and neck, full-length silk gloves.  Hard to tell from this photo, but most women also wore thick stockings or socks with their shoes or sandals.  Sun protection is quite a priority for Vietnamese ladies... not so much for the gents, who jaunted around town in pretty much whatever.


  1. I want some built in room in my pants for beer. Looks like a great visit! Post some pics of your new blazer!

  2. I know! That lady knew Tim so well to offer him beer room.


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