"The Lantern Town"
Leaving Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) from Tan Son Nhat airport, familiar as a major base during the Vietnamese/American War, we flew to Danang, another major base for Americans. Some of you will remember China Beach which served as an R&R location for American troops. We drove past the beach and about an hour to Hoi An, a beautiful small UNESCO town, free of pollution and city bustle, which has been revived by tourist visits. The Thu Bon River silted in years ago killing the port trade. With the return of tourists, Hoi An blossomed. There is a wonderful Old Town with a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architecture. There is the Japanese Bridge, built in 1593.
We visited the Chua Thanh Pagoda, established by Chinese in the 1500s. I begin to understand the Chinese and Japanese influence in Vietnam.
Chua Thanh Pagoda
We walked the town with our guide and learned of the history. The streets are lined by shops. The town is known for custom shoes and clothing. Bob and I both had shoes made overnight for a very reasonable price. We were very restrained in purchasing goods, and felt these were worthwhile.
The old streets are filled with shops.
Our busy tour day that started in Ho Chi Minh City ended with a cyclo tour of Hoi An, and somehow I felt pretty silly being pedaled around in a long line of cyclos when I love to ride bikes.
Our cyclo tour awaits.
The resort on the river was very charming. I took yoga one morning and was amazed at how well I felt after my body cracked its way into place.
The second full day saw us walking through the market and taking a cooking class. We enjoyed our lunch on the goodies we made -- spring rolls, Hoi An pancakes, and a chicken dish. What fun. We went home with a souvenir tool to quickly peel and dice mangos and other fruits, very clever and simple. Who needs a Cuisinart. We bought a second tool for $1.00 that replaces a mandolin.
We had some leisure time and I finally caught up on some sleep with a long nap and pleasant evening with tour friends. The following morning Bob and I borrowed free bikes from the resort and rode across a lovely bridge into a neighborhood. The people in that section of town are very prosperous. The ride along the river is pleasant. We maneuvered through scooter traffic for a just a few blocks and it was rather exhilarating to find I knew enough about their full-on approach to driving that I did not get hit.