Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hoi An

A very early and short flight took us to Danang where our bus met us for the trip to Hoi An. On the way we visited a museum dedicated to the Cham people. The museum was built by the French, and showcased many of the temple statues that were created, some from the 4th Century. Unfortunately quite a number were missing their heads - this according to our guide was because it was easier for them to be taken back to Harvard where they now reside. Shame.

On to the marble mountains - a series of steep hills rising up from the plains by the sea. We climbed to the top of one, where there is a large Buddhist shrine, and an enormous cave. The view over the ocean is that of China Beach. We had a quick snack of freshy spring rolls at a local café near the beach. From the looks of the fencing that is going up, there are large resorts that are going to be built in that area.

Hoi An is a small town with a section of preserved Chinese houses and a Japanese covered bridge. One of the houses is open for viewing, but many others have become stores or museums. The ceramic museum gave us an opportunity to go in and look at the building as well as the exhibit. The wood is mostly teak and has weathered to an almost black colour. This area of town floods on an annual basis, as much as 2 metres and the houses have a centre open area on the second floor with a hoist to lift everything off the ground floor.

We went through the market in town, which was packed with vendors, shoppers and the ubiquitous motor scooters. Everything seemed to be on sale, from chopping knives to live fish and shrimp in aerated pails, as well as butchers chopping meat, live chickens, and all sorts of fresh vegetables and fresh rice noodles.
On our free morning we toured the town and after lunch Rob took a bike ride along the quieter roads near the hotel. The roads into and in town are typical of much of the country - a zoo of buses, scooters, bikes and buses many of which are not on their side of the road, and often not even going in the right direction.

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