22/03/2005 00:00 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

A land both real and imaginary

Do people call it physical and non-physical culture? Whether they think of it this way or dream of it another way, they have to recognize it when staying in the heart of the ancient town of Hoi An, day and night. nbsp;


Hoi An in night.


Ancient roof of Phuc Kien Pagoda.


Lifestyle of Hoi An
locals has been preserved.nbsp;


The pagoda-bridge
with typical architecture of Hoi An.


A charming feature
of Hoi An.


Foreign tourists like to
buy fruits sold on mobile vendors. This is one of the local long-standing practices.nbsp;


Chinese-style
architecture remains at Tan Ky house, which is more than 200 years old.

Do people call it physical and non-physical culture? Whether they think of it this way or dream of it another way, they have to recognize it when staying in the heart of the ancient town of Hoi An, day and night.

In the late afternoon, Hoi An brightens with a golden sunshine. As an old seaport, just like so many other harbours in the world, Hoi An always becomes animated in the afternoon, which is the transition from day to night, and the harmony between the mainland and the sea, between reality and imagination.

Quite a few people like to take a stroll on the old streets about this time. They are charmed by the Pagoda-Bridge, built by the Japanese merchants in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, that crosses the stream flowing into the Hoai River. The 12m-long pagoda was erected in a very particular style with its roof covered with yin-yang tiles.nbsp; Both the pagoda and the bridge are made of wood, delicately carved and engraved, with the façade looking over the riverbank. The two ends are adorned with wooden animal-figures, two dogs at one end and two monkeys at the other. As the legend goes, they have long been the Japanese people’s cult animals. The centre is dedicated to the Northern Genie Tran Vo, the Protector, who is believed to grant joy and happiness to all.

Most of the streets in town are as they were centuries ago, with tube-houses running through two ends at two different streets, from one to the other. One of the streets stands next to the river bank with longer tube-houses with an open space in the middle, covered with mossy yin-yang tiles showing the wear and tear of time. One may feel some nostalgia of a period when the storefronts looked to the street, their backs to the sea, and their open spaces filled with products from China and Japan, Portugal and Italy …nbsp; a few centuries ago. In general, the houses are all built of rare wood, decorated with horizontal lacquered boards, columns and vertical parallels engraved with very intricate decorative designs.

Hoi An even nurtures spots of native culture: Kim Bong carpentry village, Tra Que market-gardening village, Cua Dai Beach, Cham Islets, Thuan Tinh eco-region, Thanh Ha pottery village… At Thanh Ha pottery village, you may easily recognize one of its features: the potter’s wheel. The piece includes only a small wooden plank called “ ” to form the shape of the product and a wetted rag to achieve its glaze. That’s all. It seems that over the past 600 years, so many scientific-technological achievements have gone unheeded in this handicraft village. The artisans work without machinery, moulds or any other modern pieces of equipment. Regularly, a piece of clay comes out every 5 minutes, a product turns out every 10 minutes… The potter’s foot works regularly and rhythmically, spinning the potter’s wheel to churn out his products. History tell us that Thanh Ha used to produce bricks and tiles for the construction of the ancient town of Hoi An.

In the late afternoon and then in the fall of the evening, the light from the lanterns brings you back to the environment of the thousand and one nights, or the atmosphere of the Red Chamber Dream in ancient China. All is real, yet seemingly so imaginary. Through the open little window-frames, you may notice people playing chess or cards, stitching… There you may realize something seemingly unchanged in the changeable society, which has become a value - i.e. a cultural style that defies all newfangled alien influences.

A foreign visitor was once asked: How do you find Hoi An? He did not hesitate to answer: “Hoi An always remains Hoi An.” This seemingly simple statement implies man’s very great values. People have preserved Hoi An with its eternal values.nbsp;


Hoi An famous for makingnbsp;multi-colourednbsp;lanternsnbsp;
for a long time.

Thanh Ha pottery village- a heritage of local culture in Hoi An tourist site.

Tourists enjoying time
by sunbathing on Cua Dai Beach.


Tourists enjoying time bynbsp;sitting in a bar and having some drinks.

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* Ancient Town of Hoi An, formerly known as Dai Chiem Port, represents one of the most ancient cities of Southeast Asia that has been kept virtually intact. In the past it used to be called Faifoo, popularly known among the merchants from Japan, China, Portugal, Italy … as early as the 16th-17th centuries. Then the sea port of Hoi An was very prosperous as a huge trading centre of Southeast Asia, one of the main stop-over ports of the Far East.
*nbsp;Hoi An is located in Quang Nam Province in Central Vietnam, bordering on Thua Thien-Hue Province and Da Nang City in the North, on Laos in the West, on Quang Ngai Province in the South and on the East Sea in the East, with Cham Islet nbsp;as its immense fishing grounds.

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Story: Nguyen Van

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