Exhausted, sick and sore we got to Hoi An. Bent under the weight of our backpacks we did not intend to look for a place to stay for long. I think we went into maybe three hotels. We chose the least expensive, but still comfortable with a swimming pool and got straight into bed, ok shower (warm shower) was first. And let me tell you not everywhere we had warm water. And then the air conditioning was shut down because of some external works in the street. I suppose for people used to living in hot climate the change between coolness of an apartment building and very hot outside is someting usual but I felt uncomfortable every time it happened and staight away I got running nose. Being sick in hot climate, without air conditioning, feels really bad. Anyway, we stayed there for two nights and in that time we both got better. We used the swimming pool in the hotel with freezing water what felt good. It all goes into oblivion when you consider the beauty of Hoi An.
On the left one of my favourite shots from Hoi An. Women sitting on a curb in from of the Japanese bridge. As you can see the straw hats have a wide ribbon that can also be used as a mouth mask, which is much more useful that the stripes they sell to tourists. They carry their goods (this time fruits) in apparatus that looks like the scales of justice – a long wooden pole across the shoulders dangling two baskets loaded with (hopefully) equally weighted wares. In the picture you can see such fruits as:
- Rambutan (Chôm Chôm) also known unofficially as Hairy Cherry, has its origin in the tropical low-lands of Malaysia. The name rambutan came from the Malay word ‘rambut’ for hair. Today, the rambutan is grown in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The fruit is about 5 cm long and has soft fleshy hair from 2 to 3 cm long over the entire surface.
- Sweet-sop (Na or Mãng Cầu Ta) also called sugar-apple, and custard-apple comes from South America. Like the pomegranate, the sweet-sop is packed with seeds. The edible pulp is a thin layer covering the individual seed. The outer layers appear to be rough and scaly. The fruit is green even when it is ripe. It reminds me of a huge artichoke.
- Longan (Nhãn) in Vietnamese, “long nhan” means dragon eye. The Longan is a close relative to the litchi. Longans are grown mostly in the cooler highlands of South-East Asia. It was brought here by Chinese immigrants as they migrated south and settled in various areas. The peel is brown and brittle. The meat is translucent white and is very juicy and sweet. In Vietnam, dried longans are cooked in water to make a dessert drink called ‘nuoc long nhan’.
- Guava (Ổi) the fruits are round or with thin dark green skin which becomes yellowish green as the fruits ripen. The fruits range from small tomato size to as large as 13 cm in length. The flesh is crunchy much like eating a slice of apple. Sometime, the guava slice is dipped in a mixture of salt and grounded red chili pepper. The Mekong Delta’s Xá Lị variety is probably the most famous in all of Vietnam.
- Pitaya (Thanh long) meaning blue dragon. The round fruit is bright pink-purple and its leathery peel is in layers and turned up at the tips, supposedly resembling a dragon’s horns. One easily peels it by hand to reveal its white flesh, studded with tiny black seeds. It has a mild and refreshing flavour, with a texture similar to kiwi fruit.
Hoi An is a very well preserved trading port enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being there you feel like in a time trap (besides the tourists). You can clearly see the Chinese and Japanese influences all around the town. Before entering any of the temples, public houses museums or private houses you need to purchase a ticket which includes a choice of several. If you would like to see them all you will need to buy two or three tickets. What I remember the most about Hoi An is its atmosphere and genuine charm which was hard for me to capture in the pictures. As you can see the list of sights on many other web-sites I will stick to showing you my best shots of the town. Let me also tell you that sitting in a bar on a river bank and drinking local beer is one of the best moments in Vietnam. I wished we stayed there longer.
Patriotic theme: Kazimierz Kwiatkowski (1944-1997, in Vietnam known as “Kazik”) – a Polish architect, restorer. Directed the work of conservation in Vietnam from 1981 until his death in 1997 he has been dedicated a commemorative plaque in the Purple Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) in Hue, and the religious sanctuary of My Son. In 2007 in Hoi An Kazimierz Kwiatkowski monument was unveiled, considered here as a providential man who saved the historic complex before the disappearance, and contributed to the success of the city. He’s attributed the chief merit of Hoi An entry in the register of historic World Heritage Site.
11.06.2012 I just found receipt from Hoa Binh Hotel (696 Hai Ba Trung St, Hoi An) – the room for 2 nights – $30, trip to My Son for two – $10.