One of my big pet peeves is watching travelers drink nothing but Coke when on the road when they could try lots of local beverages at a fraction of the price. If a poor kid from Africa came over to the states for the first time, I’d be all for him trying his first ever Coca Cola but that is quite a different story. Actually, it’s not. You are in a foreign country so why not try something local? Many people are afraid to try anything not served in a can as they figure it will be full of local water and thus impure. This might be the case in some instances but not necessarily so and it should not lead to such paranoia that you are unwilling to sometimes take a chance. Sugar cane drinks are sold in any Third World Country warm enough to grow the heavenly stalks. The cane is pushed into a grinder and the resultant nectar is a naturally sweet juice. In Hoi An, they mixed this with the juice from kumquats, a smaller version of an orange. This concoction was positively addictive and slurping them down while on the river front was a lot cheaper and authentic then sitting in some backpacker café having an over-priced Coke. Actually, they were too cheap. We had six of them for 18,000 dong (a little over a dollar) and had a tough time sleeping that night we were so amped up on the sugar!
Local women have a novel way to carry their wares and it is amazing to see these small women carry what must be equal or greater than their weight on their narrow but strong shoulders. By counterbalancing two baskets on either end of a bamboo pole, they manage to carry what otherwise might be unmanageable.
With your Old Town admission ticket not only get to walk the timeless streets of Hoi An’s Old Town but you get to visit a number of other attractions. These range from old timber homes to various ethnic meeting places of Hoi An’s colorful past. Another feature is a display of local handcrafts as well as a concert of traditional local music. This is located on Nguyen Thai Hoc, right in the heart of the Old Town. The music is quite interesting and worth taking the time to enjoy. It’s free with your entrance anyway.
Squatting is a way of life in my Third World countries and Vietnam is no exception. Though this habit probably began out of necessity of not having anything to sit on, it is probably a healthy alternative to our more sedentary lifestyle. Women especially are seen in what seems an uncomfortable position for hours on end. I found the ones out on the boats especially graceful.
Okay, I admit it. I actually paid to take this woman’s photo. I’m sure I’m not the first nor last one to do it either. She had the quintessential look and she knew it. She actually solicited it and I couldn’t resist. It was cheap, much more so than the air ticket to her homeland. I normally refrain from this as it breeds a new form of begging that should not be encouraged.
Hoi An Old Quarter Access Ticket…
In order to access certain buildings and museums in the Old Quarter it is necessary to purchase a ticket.
There are at least six locations around the Old Quarter where you can purchase these tickets and these small shop like structures are easily identifiable. They have a sign on them with the UNESCO logo that identifies them as being ticket outlets.
When I visited in January of 2010 the cost of the ticket was 90,000 Dong…which is approximately equivalent to about $ 5.00 USA .
This ticket will enable you to access and visit a number of the preserved attractions or cultural events in the Old Quarter of Hoi An..
You can make a choice of five visits…choose from a list of four museums, three assembly halls, four “old houses”, two “intangibles”, and two “others”..
Make your choices…you can visit only one from each section…and from what I was told there is NO substitution permitted…so theoretically if you want to visit more than one venue from each section then you’ll need to purchase a second or third ticket.
For some reason I was able to wiggle around this and made my way into more than one venue with my ticket..
Its possible and maybe advisable to hire a guide to escort you through these sites…they’re insight and explanations of the various sites is certainly helpful. To hire a guide the cost when I was here was only 5000 Dong…less than $3.00 USA…well worth the cost.
The lists are as follows…
Museums…Sa Huynh Culture.
History and Culture..
Assembly Halls…Truc Chau…
Old Houses…..Tran Family…
Phung Humg Family…
Quan Thung Family..
Tan Ky Family
Intangibles….Traditional Music Concert…
Others…The Japanese Bridge..
Quan Ching Temple…
Around Hoi An, I saw basket boats, but when I went to the fishing village on CHAM ISLAND, there were lots, and it was really interesting watching the locals in them.
Local fishermen believe that riding inside a basket boat is quite safe if you know how to control it properly. Although learning can be difficult at first, floating in a basket boat is generally safe on a calm sea.
Some places teach Tourists how to sit firmly in the basket boat and the proper rowing technique. The "Beginner" rowers must practice until they have mastered the skill, there is always somebody nearby to help.
Locals say that the best time to learn and practice basket boat rowing is in the morning when the sea is calmest. It is important to sit down, relax and let the boat drift naturally on the waves of the turquoise sea.
Remember to ask for a life - jacket, you may need it!
I saw people all over town eating little things normally from a plastic bag...some using tweezer like tools to extricate the meaty portions from the shells...
In hindsight I should have taken some close up pictures of the little critters but I didn't and now I wish that I had...
So....if you're wondering what it is that these people might be snacking on...if you see it happening...now you know...
NO....I didn't eat any...Im not too adventurous stepping outside of my culinary boundaries..
Located on the river,right in front of the Phoi Hoi Riverside resort, is a Fisherman's home and his fishing net. The bridge that crosses the River here, is a good place to watch how the Net operates, and how the people get to their home on the narrow piece of bamboo.
If you are only in Hoi An then this is a good spot to see how a Fishing net operates.
WHERE ...Stand on the bridge that crosses to Xa Cam Nam
Hoi An lanterns ........The silk lanterns are almost everywhere in Hoi An, with a myriad of shapes and designs in every kind of colour you can think of. You will see Lantern shops, and Lanterns just about anywhere.
The Lanterns are made of a frame of bamboo and wood that is covered with flowery or plain, coloured silk. Additionally, artisans decorate the lantern with interesting poems or create a painting telling tales.
Hoi An’s silk lanterns are a blend of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese elements.
If you wish to buy one to take home, and looking at it, you don't know how? well.......craftsmen have designed lanterns that easily fold up into bags or suitcases, this solves that problem
On the 15th of every lunar month, the town turns off its street lamps and fluorescent lights, leaving the Old Quarter bathed in the glow of colored silk lanterns.
As you wander around Hoi An, you may come across some funny sights involving animals.
I came across the Animal market, where all types of animals and birds were in cages OR tied together by their legs and sitting on the ground, or in a wire net so they couldn't move.
It was interesting seeing the bargaining going on and the money changing hands.
Some people may find it a little distressing seeing the Animals tied, hanging, or in very smalll cramped cages, if this is the case.........
then it would be best to avoid the Animal market area, located near Can Nam Bridge.
IT IS NOT SOME-WHERE FOR ANIMAL LOVER'S TO COME, OR FOR ANIMAL ACTIVIST'S
One of indispensable elements of Hoi An decor are its lanterns. They come in different shapes and colours, they may be round or hexagonal, star or diamond-shaped. The ones with bamboo frames covered with silk seem to be the most typical. They hang from the ceilings, windows and porches adding even more colour to the colour abundant town.
But on the 14th day of each lunar month these lanters are much more than just a decorative element. On these special nights the electricity is switched off and the streets are lit up only by those traditional Vietnamese lanterns. What a sight it must be!
Ao Dai is worn by women and girls everywhere in Vietnam (especially in central and southern parts of the country). But it was in Hoi An that I saw groups of school girls riding their bikes and dressed in impeccable white ao dai. I wish I had managed to take some pictures. The girls looked so charming and unique!
Traditionally, the colours of ao dai should indicate the age and status of a person who wears it. White is reserved for young girls. Older, but unmarried girls wear pastel colours. Strong and rich colours are allowed for mature married women.
Ao dai consists of a long gown which splits above the waist height, worn over wide trousers. It allows freedom of movement but at the same time looks very feminine emphasizing the natural curves of woman's body.
Today ao dai is mostly worn by female staff in hotels and offices and by girls in chosen schools.
The best massage in town is performed by a lady in her fifties, whose name I have sadly forgotten, with only one eye and a great sense of humour; she lives in a simple house in the outskirts of Hoi An and was once married to an American. Her father was an acupuncturist and she learned from him all about the pressure/power points to be touched in the human body.
We found her by chance - since she deosn't have a massage parlour nor dviertises her services in the market, like many other. She was recommended to us by Massimo, the owner of the Good Morning Vietnam restaurant.. and what a great massage it was. If you want a great no-frills massage, go and ask him to call her for you.
You won't find a massage table or a bed - just some wooden planks in her simple house that she uses as a bed... and outside her hair-dressing shop (pictured in the photo).
A special person in Hoi An, and to whom a statue is built in one of the central streets, is the Polish architect Kazimierz Kwiatkowski (1944 - 1997). He was the head of the Polish Committee for the Restoration of Vietnamese Historic Monuments and did a lot of work in Hoi An, helping restoring old buildings and bringing them to their former beauty.
The same architect did some work on My Son, too - and wished that in the future, with proper restoration, will be regarded as important as Angkor (Cambodia), Dagan (Burma) ou Boroboudour (Indonesia).