Monday, 13 February 2012

snapshots: hoi an

4th - 8th February 2012

Hoi An, Vietnam

Arrived in the quaint town of Hoi An on the 4th February after another long fifteen hour bus ride from Hanoi.  It was twelve hours to Hue where we stopped for the morning to check out the disappointing citadel there.  The 'Forbidden Purple City'  which sits inside the walled palace grounds sounds far more interesting than it is in reality unfortunately. Hopping onto another coach around midday we (still travelling with Rachel ) finally arrived in Hoi An early evening and went down for dinner by the river which is so charming it  looks as though it was plucked from the pages of a fairytale book. 
Location of Hoi An within Vietnam.
The Thu Bon river represents the heart of the city and is a hive of activity from sunrise to sunset when the bridge and shop fronts are lit up by hundreds of lanterns. Hoi An was once a major trading port in the 16-17th century before Da Nang (28km north) took over as the new centre for trade in central Vietnam. As the focus shifted to the larger Da Nang, the city of Hoi An was forgotten and as a result remained untouched for around 200 years. This means that the city has managed to retain the same architecture and charm it obtained from the prosperous colonial times and with world heritage approval by UNESCO it looks as though it will remain the same quaint old town for years to come.

The two-hundred-year-old buildings on the river's edge now house a plethora of trendy cafes. The building's crumbling-but-trendy architecture and the antique wooden boats which are moored alongside all add to the 'rustic' charm of the city. At night-time crowds of people congregate down by the water's edge to let off lanterns that float along on the river's surface; lighting it up with a thousand small flames.

Cafe 96 was one of my favourite places to eat breakfast. One morning tried Cao Lau, a Hoi An speciality consisting of rice noodles boiled in water from a local bale well along with pork, croutons, bean sprouts and an assortment of herbs including mint and banana flower. The price for this tasty dish? Just over a pound.

A local man relaxing in the shade by the Thu Bon river.

The banks of the river are populated by local women who offer small boat trips during the day and into the night. 

A labyrinthine network of narrow alleyways connect the central areas of Hoi An together. 

The area has been damaged by numerous floods which can clearly be seen when walking along these alleyways.

The cream-yellow buildings in the 'historic core' of Hoi An came to life under the gaze of a midday sun.

On the way to the river.

Local lady going about her business. What a winning smile eh!

The Vietnamese are extremely adept at riding scooters. This woman is so confident in her driving ability that she doesn't even need to look at the road while checking a text on her phone.

Old lady wearing a trademark Vietnamese conical hat.

The market at the east end of Tran Phu is a fine example of a traditional country market. Silk and freshly caught fish can all be bartered for here.

No meaning here, just a nice image I thought.

 Took a bike one day and rode over to An Banh Beach which rests just 3km from town. Got some beers and went for a stroll along the golden sand as the sun bid farewell to the day.
A new resort being built on the water's edge. I've become a little obsessed with the effect the sun has on the landscape at different points of the day and I really like the orange hue that it casts in it's final minutes of life. The contrast between light and shade here struck me as pretty cool as it gave an otherwise ugly building site a final flick of beauty.

Bye bye Hoi An.

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