Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A Quick Visit to Hoi An
Hoi An (which, I just noticed, anagrams to Hanoi) is listed among The 1000 Places to Visit Before You Die, but for the life of me I don't know why. For one, it is way, way too touristy. Older son compared the number of white people (Westerners) seen there to the number seen on the Downtown Mall at home. And while the vendors in Hue's Dong Ba market will generally let you pass if you politely decline what they are offering, those at Hoi An will literally grab you and pull you into their stall. Their prices are also inflated compared to those in Hue. All that said, I did take a few photos there that might be worth sharing. Like this flower? If you look closely, you'll see that the it's made of dried squid. For comparison, here's a real flower. And here's another one. Sometimes the flowers are floating. These dragons were on an altar in one of the shrines. I'm not sure what sort of ceremony these monks were performing, but it was interesting to watch. Hoi An is noted for its colorful lanterns and has a lantern festival each month in conjunction with the lunar calendar. One of the attractions of Hoi An is a Japanese covered bridge. This is another bridge. A window in one of the houses we visited. Finally, this is one of those quirky things I just had to photograph. Hoi An now somewhat disposed of, let me set up my next couple of blog posts by positing that you haven't lived until you've (1) careened through the countryside with a driver who can't take his hand off the horn and who may or may not know where he's going, (2) tried to shoot (as in photograph) water buffalo while doing (1), (3) walked through ruins of a temple complex active from the 4th through 13th centuries and for which the guidebooks say not to "stray far from the towers and marked paths, as unexploded mines may still be in the ground" (emphasis in the original), and (4) gone 45 meters beneath the earth in a North Vietnamese tunnel complex. I left out the one about eating a somewhat formal dinner with some of the higher-ups of Hue University at which my glass of beer miraculously refilled itself whenever I looked away. Suffice to say I did not embarrass myself or my husband, and I was able to walk down the staircase at the end of the evening and not trip over the ankle-length skirt I was wearing.