Tuesday, April 2, 2013


The historic 'Japanese Bridge' in the Old Town of Hoi An
Hoi An is a seaside town unlike any other. Founded in the 16th century, this is the best preserved old port in all of Southeast Asia; a historical site for the ages. This has Vietnam's best preserved old buildings, which precede the French colonial times.
Traditional lanterns in an Old Town shop
During the war years, Hoi An was spared the destruction that raged throughout the rest of South Vietnam. By luck, or by design, neither side launched major attacks on this rare ancient town. That left Hoi An's rich heritage intact. It makes one wonder how the rest of Vietnam may have looked, if this beautiful country had not been so damaged by so many wars over the centuries
Hoi An was once a major trading port
As Hoi An lies is a coastal town which lies on the Thu Bon River, it does suffer one annual indignity: flooding. Unlike other old river towns, Hoi An lacks levees, so each spring the streets are flooded. However, it is flooding that the town's residents have learned to live with. The only movement seen in the town's streets is by boat.  
An artist does restoration work on a local Buddhist temple

Rather than the usual destruction of flooding I've seen before, the strong foundations and building materials in this old town are such that the old buildings are able to withstand the annual floods (for the most part.)
Colorfully painted boats in Hoi An's harbor

Once a major trading port, over the centuries the town had communities of Chinese, Cham and Japanese. Even the Dutch and Spanish were here. Today, it is distinctly Vietnamese.
Waitresses chat at the door of a Hoi An restaurant. The town is excellent for seafood.
Inside one of the oldest homes in town is a very heavy, old wooden pillar, with a series of marks on it. These are dated high water marks, showing the actual height that the flood reached that year. When the annual floodwaters subside, the town's residents clean up, and the tourists, return to Hoi An as usual. 
A night time view of Hoi An's waterfront

This burg has long been known as a 'must see' place for foreign visitors. With excellent restaurants craft markets, and comfortable scenic hotels, its reputation for tourism is well deserved. With romantic views, the Old Town is popular with honeymooners.

Hoi An has some of the best preserved architecture in all of Vietnam
This ancient little port was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, so the unique and historic old town should be spared from unscrupulous redevelopers in the future. With that kind of protection, this beautiful old town should remain relatively unchanged for future generations of tourists, who wish to come and experience the charm, the tranquility, of old Vietnam.

'The Old Man and the Sea' in Vietnam


  1. amazing pictures shared, great written blog. i am regularly visiting your blog and i always love to go through your posts. keep sharing more. and all the best with your good work. Hire A Yacht In Dubai

  2. Thank you Daisy! I'm glad that you enjoy the pictures and stories. I'll keep sharing stories twice a week. All the best to you in Dubai!

  3. G,
    I have been carefully and thoroughly reading and lingering over your absolutely AMAZING writing and splendid photography of SEA. I greatly admire your thoughtful project to document not only the effects of the war years in the countries you are visiting, but your sensitive treatment of the beautiful people you visit and interact with on this marvelous journey of discovery.I have spent many years,beginning in 1989, traveling and practicing public health with NGOs in rural Vietnam, but have yet to see the wonders that you have shown us by way of your majestic blog.My wife and I will be again traveling to VN in Feb 14, and look forward to visiting many of the sites that you are currently seeing. BTW, our daughter, now a political scientist working in DC, was born in Hanoi, and came to us at age 4. So, our ties to VN and her lovely people are exceptionally strong and everlasting. Continue your tremendous work, and be safe as your journey goes on,
    .Thanks again, Sincerely, Dr. T.

  4. Dear Dr. T,
    Thanks so much for all of your compliments, and for reading my blog so thoroughly. I'm pleased to hear that you enjoy it. (Your comments on the blog are the most positive I've ever received, thank you.) I'm also glad to hear that you have worked with NGOs to bring better health to the people of rural Vietnam, they certainly need better health care in the countryside. I wish you a safe and pleasant journey in February when you return to Vietnam again. Southeast Asia is certainly an enchanting place, it's one of my favorite parts of the world. All the best to you and your family. Have a safe and pleasant trip in February.