16 Jun - 22 Jun 2010 Hoi An

Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Quang Nam Province
Tran Cao Van Street 39
Comfortable twin room, with wifi, breakfast buffet and swimming pool, for US$ 15.- per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Phuoc An Hotel in Hoi An, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Wandering through the ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which oozes charm and history, and exploring (i) her well preserved old shop houses and handicraft workshops (hand painted silk lanterns, embroidery, ceramics), (ii) her colourful and much frequented Chinese congregational assembly halls aka  hoi quan and (iii) her atmospheric Buddhist temples and pagodas: the 15th century CE Chuc Thanh Pagoda, Hoi An's oldest pagoda, and the 18th century CE Phuoc Lam Pagoda, both with traditional roofs made up of thousands of brick-coloured am and duong (yin and yang) roof tiles - so called because of the way the alternating rows of concave and convex tiles fit snugly together.

Learning about the maritime history of Hoi An which used to be one of Southeast Asia’s major international ports and received Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Indian, Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, French, British and American ships to purchase high-grade silk, fabrics, paper, porcelain, tea, molasses, elephant tusks, beeswax, mother-of-pearl, lacquer, sulfur and lead.

Realising that Hoi An is a foodie heaven and indulging in the pescetarian delicacies of the distinctive Hoi An cuisine at our favourite seafood restaurant, Cafe 43 +845103862587: (i) cao lầu, a dish of shrimps and doughy flat noodles which are not quite as slippery as pho and a bit closer in texture to pasta, topped with slices of tofu, dough fritters, and this being Vietnam, lots of fresh herbs, bean sprouts and veggies; (ii) steamed bánh bao vac or white rose, a type of shrimp dumpling made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose; (iii) deep-fried wanton dumplings aka hoanh thánh, essentially the same as the Chinese kind; (iv) gỏi cuốn or Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with shrimps or veggies; (v) muc nhoi or stuffed squid; (vi) bánh xeo or crispy savoury pancakes rolled with herbs in fresh rice paper; and (vii) grilled fish in banana leaf.

Washing down the delicious local food with (i) excellent Dalat red wine aka Vang Dalat for VND 40,000.- or US$ 2.10 per bottle and (ii) refreshing local draft beer aka bia hơi for VND 3,000.- or US$ 0.15 per pint; may we be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows we're dead, cheers!

Discovering Hoi An's scenic environs: (i) cycling through green rice paddies to the palm-lined Cua Dai beach, situated c. 5 km east of Hoi An, and (ii) cruising the Thu Bon River estuary (with its peculiar sand-coloured stationary fishing nets which are strung up on bamboo poles over the dark, buried undercurrent of the shallow river, sagging like four-poster hammocks beneath the blue sky) on a rugged diesel launch with a very capable female captain; many thanks for a very nice and relaxing trip, dear Xi!

Laundering our dirty linen for VND 10,000.- or US$ 0.50 per kg, washed and dried, at the efficient hotel laundry.

"An income tax form is like a laundry list - either way you lose your shirt."

Taking the rugged sleeper option of Hoan Hao’s air-con open-tour bus from Hoi An via Da Nang to history-seeped imperial Hue (c. 150 km, 4 3/4 hours, VND 60,000.- or c. US$ 3.15 per person), the old capital of the Nguyen emperors on the banks of the enigmatically named Perfume River.

Click below for other blog posts about interesting Asian UNESCO World Heritage Sites
23 Jun - 26 Jun 2013 Nara
17 Feb - 20 Feb 2013 George Town
25 Oct - 08 Nov 2012 Hanoi (about Halong Bay)
15 Sep - 17 Sep 2012 Xiamen (about Fujian Tulou)
24 Oct - 31 Dec 2005 Ashkelon (about Jerusalem)

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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