The Amblings and Ramblings of the Ingalls Family

The travels and thoughts of Heidi, Micah, and Frances...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hoi An Market

Despite its becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction, Hoi An stills maintains a feeling of being rather more local than otherwise.

The market is a good example of this, where hundreds of people from the region come every morning to sell their wares and their vegetables, and whatnot.

The picture below shows old women selling betel nut, a substance chewed by people through south and southeast asia, and elsewhere, said to be a narcotic.

Housefronts of Hoi An

Taking photographs of the housefronts of Hoi An is something of an analogue to taking photos of the faces along Oxford's drainpipes. They are, however, pcituresque, though I doubt these do them justice.

To the far left is a picture of the Vin Hung, the hotel where we stayed.

Hoi An, Viet Nam

Though having been settled early in the first century, Hoi An became an important trading centre during the 15th century, serving as a point of trade, perhaps the most important point of trade, for southeast asia, linking China, Japan, India, the Middle East and the Europe.
Today, the influence of the various ethnic groups can be seen throughout the city, with Chinese and Japanese architecture and homes, etc. In particular, the Chinese have left several large meeting halls, all specific to the region from which each Chinese group had come- thus a meeting hall for the Cantonese, a hall for the Hunan, etc. The Japanese covered bridge is also a place of note, which dates back to the 1700s.

Hoi An was declared a World Heritage Site in recognition of the pivotal role it played in the development of world trade, and for the history of its various inhabitants.
Hoi An is also known for Cao Lau, a noodle dish which, traditionally, must be made from the water of a particular well in the heart of the Hoi An.

We stayed here for several days during which time resided in an old Chinese merchants warehouse built in the 1800s, which has since been made into a hotel.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Van Mieu, Hanoi

Whilst in Hanoi, we visited Van Mieu, the historic Temple of Literature, built during the Ly and Tran dynasties, beginning in 1010 AD. This Confucian temple was built to honour those scholars who were awarded their doctorate whilst studying there during the 700 years that it operated.

The final examination for each student was oral, and was administered by the emporer, who would question the student for several hoursin matters if history and philosophy, and administration.

In 1484, the emperor Le Thanh Tong began to inscribe the names of the graduating doctors on steles, the turtles.

Hanoi, Viet Nam

After leaving Halon Bay, we travelled down to Hanoi, to meet with MCC Viet Nam,and to see the city. MCC Viet Nam, like MCC Laos, has had a long history in the region. MCC Viet Nam was at work throughout the Viet Nam War, characteristically living and working with people the both sides of the conflict. Hanoi itself needs little explanation, I expect.

Halong Bay, Viet Nam

Every year, the MCC Laos staff take a holiday together—all foreigners and nationals, all adults and children. For us, this was a wonderful time to be together with the national staff in a place where we could all be foreigners together. I would not wish to overstate the matter, but I think it is reasonable to say that the very state of being a foreigner is by far and away the most difficult thing of our being here or, indeed, being in a place. This year, MCC travelled together to Viet Nam, and for us this was a singularly rewarding time of being foreigners together for a time, however brief.
We travelled overland by bus to the coast of Viet Nam and, after a brief stop in Vinh, we drove up to Halong Bay, in northern Viet Nam. Halong Bay is a waterbody filled with islands and caves which, like the caves of northern Laos, served as the bases of the early communist revolutionaries.