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Winter Vacation - Hoi An, Vietnam 2006/12/27

Shopping in Hoi An

View Winter Vacation 2006 on agc_cwm's travel map.

Before heading out into Hoi An again, we grabbed breakfast at our hotel. I also did a bit of wildlife photography at the table.

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We decided that we would do another walking tour. I busied myelf with transcribing the map while Andrew tried his best to find a place from which to contact his buddies. Just as we were walking into the first internet place, a girl totally bailed off her motorbike, and everyone went running toward her. Unfortunately most of the people were just coming to see how bad she got hurt, and not actually helping the situation. We looked at each other for a couple minutes, but it looked as though some of the people had everything under control, and she seemed to be ok, so we just kept going. The internet wasn't working at this place, so we tried another, but it was the same deal (aside: we found out later that there was an earthquake off the coast of Taiwan that damaged an internet cable, and it turns out that this is the reason we couldn't find anywhere that was online that day). Andrew gave up trying and we started the walking tour of Old Hoi An.

As we made our way alog the streets, we discovered that most of the places on the tour were just old houses that were kind of falling apart, and the places worth going into required a ticket. And it wasn't as simple as paying the admission at the gate; you actually had to find ticket locations around town at which you could buy a day's pass which allowed you to get into multiple locations. So that is what we did.

The first place we went to was the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall. This isn't so much a place for worship as it is a place of superstition. There were dozens of incense coils hanging from the ceiling. People purchase the coils in memory of deceased family members or other people of importance, or just for good luck. Each coil burns continuously for three months.


They also burn symbols of the person who is deceased. For example, the bright yellow boots were burned in memory of generals, with the belief that it would bring them good luck in the afterlife. They would burn cloth for a tailor.

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There were a few altars here, as well as some interesting sculptures and gardens. Here are a few of our pictures of this place.

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When we were walking into town this morning on our way a woman came up and started talking to us. Asking how long we had been in Hoi An, where we were from and (we should have known) eventually told us that she had a tailor shop in the market and that we should come see it. When we left the Assembly hall we were making our way to the market, where this woman found us again. At first she wouldn't take no for answer so we followed her to her shop. Then we promptly asked for a business card and left before they convinced us to sit down. Later on that day we were warned by someone (another business owner) not to follow people into the market because they may try to steal from us. I'm not sure if she was telling us out of the kindest of her heart or so we wouldn't go buy clothes in the market. I'm thinking the second reason.

After we left the market we went and had lunch at Miss Lyn's 22. We had a traditional Hoi An dish cao lau. It is a noodle soup with rice paper. It was really good.

Once we finished lunch we realized that we were next to the Museum of History and Culture and we had a ticket for it. It was pretty small and not that exciting.

After the museum we went to the Tran Family Chapel. (we didn't take any pictures because we didn't know if it would be ok). There are two houses on this site. The house in front is the chapel. No one actually lives there it is just for remembering ancestors and the house out back where everyone lives. The chapel was built around 1802 because their father was going to China and he wanted to leave something for his children. The chapel's architecture was influenced by Vietnam, China and Japan. Each area had a little different look. In the center of the chapel was a large altar. On this altar there were boxes representing all of the relatives until cameras were invented then people got pictures taken and placed on the wall. These boxes all had carvings on them. If the carvings were the same they were a married couple, if it was the same but smaller it was their child. There were also different carvings for a single man or woman. Also, in each box there was a tablet with their birthday and the day they died. On the anniversary of someone's death the family would put their box in the middle of the altar and light incense for them. They would also put something of that person's in the box as well.

After we looked at the altar we went over to a small table that had a bowl and two coins. People would go there for help with solving problems. You would think of your question and throw the coins. If you get two of the same (two heads, two tails) it is bad luck, but if you get two different it is good luck. You also have the option if you get bad luck to throw again. But only three times. We threw. I had good luck, but Andrew did not.

Our guide took us out back and explained that the family would also bury newborn infant's umbilical cords in the ground. They believed this way the children would not forget their home or hometown.

The last stop we made on our tour was to watch a traditional music concert. At first the band played a couple songs, then a woman came out and sang a song with them. After she sang a guy came out and sang a duet and danced with her. Finally he did a crazy dance where he was jumping and flying all over the stage. Here are some shots from this concert.

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After the concert we wandered down to the river and headed off to get some supper. We went to a really nice Italian restaurant, which we lucked out because we beat the family of 6 and the party of 6 adults and 6 kids. We got our food before all the mayhem started with them.

Then we went to get fitted again. The first place we went everything fit like a glove. The second place we had to get them taken in and adjusted. This was fine we had lots of time. Then we went back to our hotel to relax, play some Scrabble, watch TV and sleep. It was a good day walking around Hoi An.

Here are a few other random shots around Hoi An; one is of the street and the other is a gate for someone's house. Hoi An is also famous for all the tailor shops and for lanterns. This is a shot of some lantern frames in a workshop.

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Posted by agc_cwm 03:46 Archived in Vietnam

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