Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beautiful Colonial City of Hoi An, Vietnam...........

Hoi An is a city of 120,000 inhabitants on the coast of the South China Sea in South Central Vietnam's Quang Nam Province, and is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 
Long post with lots of photos - but a beautiful, very colorful, place I just have to share with you.

I first learned of Hoi An from the lovely Kim who has taken care of my much traveled feet for several years! She does a great pedicure and prepares me for those long journeys I've been taking. When I first met Kim she was quite shy and spoke very little English. Each visit to the salon, while being pampered in her chair, I encouraged her to talk to me to help her with her English. It was extremely difficult to understand her at first, however, over the years, she has opened up and never hesitates to chat non-stop now........not just to me but to everyone. When I told her where I was headed last December she was very excited.

This beautiful old city is Kim's home town. She left years ago moving here with her husband. She now has a delightful daughter in the 6th grade, but she has not been able to return for a visit home in over ten years due to the cost.

Once the busiest trading port in Asia, between the 7th and 10th centuries, Hoi An controlled the strategic spice trade and with that came tremendous wealth. Today's boats still have the same hull shape as those used then.

Many people in Hoi An still make their living from the river. This woman, whom we were told was 83, expected payment to take her photo.

If you've seen the movie "The Quiet American" starring Michael Caine, much of it was filmed in Hoi An and this bridge was shown several times.

During the 16th and 17th centuries the town was divided with a Japanese settlement across the 'Japanese Bridge'. This unique covered structure, built by the Japanese, is the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side.

Traditional architecture in the old town area.....

.....and plenty of places to shop.....

...............especially for the shoe addicted!

Local crafts, especially silk lanterns......

.....lacquer paintings......

..........memorabilia from the war years.

Although much of Vietnam was ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched. As you wander the mostly traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport, it's not hard to imagine yourself amidst the merchants of the 18th century.

Lots of healthy snacks from the ladies in their rainwear.......

........and plenty of what appeared to be perhaps less healthy snacks..........

......I'll take just a banana please.

 Colorful restaurants......

........beautiful pagodas and temples........

Despite showers much of the day, we loved walking through this extraordinary jewel of a town. Like me, I'm sure you'll be amazed by the brilliant colors everywhere. This was a glimpse of the colonial past, a Vietnam that no longer exists elsewhere.


Before I left for Vietnam Kim asked me, if time permitted, to visit her much-loved cousin Huong in Hoi An, and I couldn't disappoint her. We had time for just a quick visit to her dressmaking/tailor shop before heading back to Da Nang airport to start our long journey home. 

I hope so much that Kim can visit her lovely home town in the near future......her family is waiting for her. I know only too well the feeling of being torn between countries. We each try hard to embrace the land where we have chosen to settle. As the years go by it becomes easier, but deep down we are forever tied to the land of our birth and our childhood, and often our hearts ache for the family members and friends we left behind.  


  1. Mary,

    What a fascinating article, and great photos, especially as it seemed to be raining all the time ! I visited Vung Tao several times, and like you, have always been amazed by the warmth shown by the Vietnamese to Visitors to their Country.

  2. The colors there are amazing! I loved the 83 year old lady with here colorful basket in her boat.

  3. That is a view of Viet Nam that I have never seen - how beautiful!
    That was so kind of you visit your friend's cousin. I have never been an ex-pat for more than a few years at a time, but I remember the longing that would come in waves, no matter what my happiness at trying new things, seeing new sights.

  4. Great photos, Mary. You make the locale seemingly come alive with your pictures. You have inspired me to seek out a restaurant serving food of VietNam this evening after I finish my work here in Sacramento tonight.

    See you at the airport late tomorrow night.

    Miss you!

    Your DH


  5. Once again you've opened my eyes Mary. If you had mentioned Vietnam to me before reading this post it conjured pictures of war in my mind. It is certainly a most beautiful place, and now I will think of these colourful pictures and tales of your adventures - thank you :o)
    Rose H

  6. Oh my, what gorgeous gorgeous pictures! And quite a story!


  7. South East Asia is a beautiful part of the world.
    The people are wonderful, seemingly content yet most have difficult living conditions.
    Thank goodness for colour which is evident in their dress, homes and lives.

    Amazing images Mary, that old ladys face - portrays an incredibly hard life - hopefully tourism has helped give her a few extras!

    I've enjoyed my visit to Vietman with you!

    Shane x

  8. Love seeing our trip through your eyes Mar, gets me yearning to plan more trips but 2012 is going to be the last year of major trips. Perhaps and except for those already planned for 2013.

  9. Is there any place in the world you have NOT visited? Wow! Do you plan all your own trips?

    I loved the colorful photos!

  10. Such a beautiful place, thank you. And apparently a well-developed tourist trade, given the number of English-language labels, even on the pastry cart. So glad you could visit Kim's cousin for her.

  11. What a sweet post. It is beautiful here and I am so glad you met Kim's cousin briefly. A couple of years ago I had a friend living here and we wanted to visit her so badly, but by the time of our trip last year she had moved back to the US. I am sad I wasn't able to visit her here now that I see your beautiful pictures.

  12. Vietnam is a gorgeous country, and you have captured it so wonderfully here. I know how much you must have enjoyed your visit!

  13. What a beautiful city! So much color, and I love all of the old boats. Even though they have the pastries in abundance, people do so much walking and biking over there they burn up all those extra calories!
    Take Care,

  14. Your photos are stunning! We are planning a trip to Hoi An and possibly Hue and Nha Trang this February.and your photos are certainly inspiring the trip!

    Karen Garrett

  15. Well said Mary.. I was born in South Africa, now call Au my home.. well.... does one ever put down those long roots in a new country.?.. your post made me think.. and I thank you for that x Jean


I would enjoy reading your comment - thanks so much for stopping by.