Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vietnam (4) - next stop Hoi An

So having left Hue by car we're enroute to Hoi An facing a 4 hour car journey, not the worst but by this stage we were starting to feel quiet tired and really just wanted to sleep all the way. What we'd forgotten was that we had a couple of scheduled stops enroute.

Our first stop was at the Cham Museum in De Nang. The Museum's first building was opened in 1919, but many Cham sculptures collected in Da Nang, Quang Nam and elswhere were brought to the site over the preceding 20 years. We were quite tired by the time we got there so we didn't spend too long in the museum, that said some of the exhibits are really impressive so it is well worth visiting.

Our next stop was Marble Mountains, by this time we were very tired and our sugar levels were at the lowest level they would reach on this amazing trip. Whilst the thought of walking up the mountain was not really that appealing at the time, we did and we were glad we did. Marble Mountains is a cluster of 5 mountains, all of them have cave entrances and numerous tunnels. Sevarel buddhist sancturies can be found in the mountains making this a popular tourist attraction, you can see an example of this in the photo below. The area is famous for stone sculpture and stone cutting crafts which you'll see at the foot of the mountains.

Marble Mountain

Finally time to hit the road again, onward to our next hotel, the very lovely Life Resort in Hoi An and a very special welcome, they really knew how to make a honeymoon couple feel very special.

The city of Hoi An possessed the largest harbout in Southeast Asia in the 1st century, known at that time as Champa City. Between the seventh and 10th centuries, the Cham people controlled the strategic spice trade and with this came tremendous wealth. The former harbour town of the Cham at the estuary of the Thu Bon River was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Chinese from the various provinces as well as Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled. During this period the city was know as Hai Pho (Seaside Town), originally a divided town with the Japanese settlement across the Japanese Bridge.

In 1999, UNESCO formally recognised Hoi An as a World Heritage Site. Hoi An is home to many temples, pagodas and the ancient homes that bear its very unique mark. The density of such sites is like no other and Vietnam which is what makes Hoi An so special. Enjoy a walking tour with your guide but also have some fun wandering round on your own, especially in the amazing market where the phrase "hello, buy something" will become very familar. Now time to let some photos tell the true story of Hoi An.

We were only in Hoi An for a couple of days and enjoyed every moment of the visit. If you plan a trip to Vietnam try and include this wonderful city.

Last night dinner at the Hoai Pho Brother's Cafe
From Hoi An, it was time to move onto our next destination, Siem Reap, Cambodia.