Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 19: Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, as I found out, only has about 88,000 inhabitants. I thought so, because I was surprised how small this place is.

Yet, despite its size, it is amazing. Wikipedia says that “in 1999, the old town was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO as a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, whose buildings display a unique blend of local and foreign influences.”

There are one too many tailor shops here, but the people are exceptionally kind. Stuff here is cheaper than in Hanoi, too. Today I had purchased a haircut (with shampoo, a head massage, and a bottle of water to drink), five souvenir wooden figurines, two pieces of fruit to eat on the upcoming bus ride to Saigon, a straw triangular Vietnamese hat, and a Vietnam souvenir magnet--all for $10.

At the hostel, I only paid $8 for a room with two double beds, a refridgerator, TV, bathroom and bath, and a fan.

People are very friendly here. At the hotel they like to engage foreigners to practice their own English. I was offered a free sandwich just minutes ago by the staff here, as it is raining and I am waiting for my bus.

There is not too much to see outside the small Old Town. There is a Japanese bridge, which previously divided the town. A few temples. Most of the places are catered toward tourists, which is interesting and leads me to ask a question: what were people doing in this town before the tourists came flooding in? Indeed, it seems like there are more tourists than locals, yet before the tourists came, it's hard to imagine this place, since everywhere there are stores, stores, stores. ...

It's unfortunate that I have to leave today. Yesterday, there was some children's festival--either commemorating the beginning of school or for a children's foster home [it's hard to tell]--and today everyone is talking about the upcoming full moon festival. It's a shame I have to leave, but time is tight. I am staying in Saigon only one night as is, due to all of the delays.
P.S. The photo of me in front of a Lenin statue above is from Hanoi, not Hoi An.

1 comment:

Vitaly said...

awesome photo!!! ve le - nin !!!! oh yeah I gotta look for a job soon :) my money stash is getting leaner.