Thursday, 5 June 2014

Ancient town of Hoi An

Our journey south along the coast of Vietnam took us to Hoi An, or "peaceful meeting place". This used to be a busy harbour town, an important trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries where the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled.  We were surprised at the elaborate community meeting halls bearing the names of different Chinese provinces. One of the main attractions in town was the unique covered Japanese bridge - the Japanese settlement used to be on the other side of this bridge.

When the French came to Indochina, DaNang took over as the centre of trade and Hoi An became a forgotten backwater, which was a good thing because it meant that it was left out of all the subsequent political activities, including the war.  As a result, its ancient town remained unchanged and was preserved.  It is now a UNESCO heritage site.

I found Hoi An charming, especially the traditional architecture in the old town spread over three main streets with many intricate alleys and historical houses in between.  Take a look for yourself...

The delightful Japanese covered bridge - make no mistake, it's usually plastered with tourists.   I just lucked out with this one. 

The Fukien Community Hall - built by traders from Fukien Province in China when they landed in Hoi An.  There was another one built by traders from Guangdong Province.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms in the community centre

The central piece in the community compound is a temple - the centre of worship was also the centre of the community.  The temple roofs and eaves were elaborately decorated.

The temple was dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, naturally
Clearly a demon god!

All the community halls seem to have dragon fountains!

Incense swirls that could burn for a long time - the name of the worshipper was written on a tag in the middle

Rooftop figurines arranged in correct protocol - female on the right

Male on the left

One of the three ancient streets in the old town - most of the buildings were still in tact but had been turned into a variety of shops and restaurants.  Note the different styles of balconies.

Some buildings were in the colonial style
An old house turned into a unique book store

Interesting double roofs

This was an old family home opened for tourist visits

The internal courtyard was an important source of light

Entrance to a community house 

One of many alleys in the old town.  We wandered down several of these and found some interesting old courtyards and artisanal shops.
This was a clan hall for the Zhang clan

An ancient courtyard off an old alley made for a lovely backdrop for this working woman!

The theatre

A museum 

Along the river front


Hoi An at night - lit by a thousand lanterns...

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