Vietnam - something for the adventurous traveler
Some years ago my travels took me to Vietnam, traveling by busses and trains from Hanoi to the Mekong Delta. Hoi An - a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1999) was one of the places that made the deepest impression. The town is like an open air museum. Full of architectural gems from a time long gone. Because of the riverside location the town is particularly vulnerable to flooding. The waterlevel can easily rise more than a meter. We happened to be there during flooding. Since our hotel was on an island in the river we were cut off from the rest of the city. A bit of a frightening experience.
The historical old town is well preserved. Among the impressive architecture are the merchant houses, warehouses, the Chinese temples, assembly halls etc. Many of the houses have kept the original exterior, but converted into shops and restaurants. Hoi An was a major Southeast Asian trading post in the 16th and 17th century. Many Chinese came by boat to settle and trade.
The Japanese Bridge
The Japanese Bridge is definitly the most impressive bridge in town. It was build in 1593, but is still in use. There is a little temple half way. According to the story, it is said that the building process was started in the year of the monkey and was finished in the year of the dog. That's why there is a monkey at one end and a dog at the other.
Phuc Kien Assembly Hall
This was one of the Assembly Halls we chose to visit. It was built by Fujian Chinese in the late 17th century and serves as a meeting place and as a temple dedicated to the worship of the Goddess of the Sea. Within the building there is a model of a boat to symbolise the journey of the Chinese to Hoi an. The temples, museums and assembly halls provide a good insight in what life must have been like in this busy trading center.
One of the footbridges (to our island)
Our third day started as a sunny day, so we desided to go for a bike ride along the river. On the way back we arranged a taxi to take us to the ruins of «My Son» the next day. When we returned to the hotel in the late afternooen it had started to rain. It was still raining when we went out for dinner.
One hour was enough (my husbond took this photo)
Our last day was supposed to be a full day excurtion to the ancient Cham city "My Son" - a UNESCO Heritage Site located not far from Hoi An. This Cham city became a religious centre in the 4th century untill it was occupied in the 13th century. It is supposed to be one of the most stunning sights in the area. But because of the heavy rain the visibility was poor, making it no pleasure at all. The ruins are divided into several groups, but after seing two of them, we gave up. The water kept rising and after an hour it reached our ankles.
Outside our room before the rain
The rain continued all afternoon. On our way back after having dinner in town, the footbridge was allready flooded. We had to wade in water to our ankles as we crossed it. Back at the hotel, we express our concern to the girls at the reception, but they assure us that everything is going well. We had booked a taxi to take us to the airport in Danang the next morning. Before we went to sleep, we packed our suitcases and left everything on top of a table, just in case....
Same place (outside our room) the next morning
At 06 o'clock in the morning the reception called us. The taxi couldn't pick us up at the hotel. We had to be brought over the river by boat. The lawn outside our room was completely flooded and while we waited for the boat in the reception, the waterlevel kept rising.
Our boat turned out to be two kayaks! The idea was a kayak for each of us, with suitcases and everything. I really did not understand how we should manage to get up to dry land in a kayak. We have never paddled one before! Fortunately, that did not work either. One of the suitcases went in the water when they tried to place it. They understood they had to arrange for another boat.
Then our ride came sailing in. This time with a crew. Luckily we didn't have to paddle ourselves. On the way we met people wading in water or sailing in different versions of small boats.
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