Sunday, 4/27/14, Hoi An
Charming, Charming, Charming! Old Hoi An is a quaint village recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is a well-preserved example of an Asian trading port dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. Both China and Japan controlled it at one time or another. Delightful lanes, traversed only by foot or on two wheels, lead to restaurants, shops and temples. As night came, lighted lanterns dotted the shops, streets and bridges creating a beautiful night.
My favorite place in Hoi An is located a couple of miles outside of town. An organic farm community consisting of 290 people, 220 are involved in growing a wide variety of veggies. It is worked only with manual labor, even watering by hand using large watering cans. Now that is quaint. Check out the photos showing Denise learning how to cook a Vietnamese pancake at the farm. (MJM)
A must do for me was to bring back a memory of the people. That would likely be a picture that could be framed or a painting. While visiting the ‘Phuc Kien Assembly Hall’, a pagoda dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, we ventured into an artist/photographer shop on the grounds of the pagoda. For the pagoda, see: http://hoian-tourism.com/what-to-see/assembly-halls/phuc-kien-assembly-hall.
The shop had some pictures we liked, and one we really liked. Having already done enough to dent the funds, we left the gallery saying we’d think about it. The artwork was a set of pictures capturing the method of fishing with big yellow nets. The next day we were on the river, seeing how big net fishing is actually accomplished. The moments of casting the net were ‘wow’ moments. So we thought we have the pictures we need. Maybe! HOWEVER, I could not get the art series out of my mind. The capture was a night version of casting.
The net was a near shocking yellow against the night sky. So beautiful! So instead of going in the planned opposite direction, for dinner on the beach, we made apologies and went back to town. It’s night. The cab dropped us as close as possible and we set out walking fast, hoping the gallery was still open. It wasn’t. We hung at the locked gate hoping for notice. A woman opposite the pagoda, with a shop of her own, asked what we wanted. We gave her the story and she told us the folks were there since they lived behind the gallery and then she took us around to another opening into the darkness. With the gallery door still open, we stepped inside as she called out the names of her kin. Yes, she was related to them.
The artist’s brother, who runs the gallery, recognized us. He bragged on his sister some more, showing us her awards. And then the artist herself came out from her work to sign all three in the series. I was happy.
Like Saigon, Hoi An’s nightlife was exciting, reminiscent of South Beach. Lights, music and shops open till late at night. Watch out though. Side walks are taken by the shops so folks have to walk in the street with the cars, buses and bikes, bikes, bikes, all of which vie for their own pseudo secure road space. Unnerving!