Tuesday, March 17, 2009


More notes from the past: in mid-February we enjoyed a romantic Valentine's Day getaway to the pretty little riverside town of Hội An. This was a good weekend to travel, since the Valentine's weekend had been conveniently extended into three days by the actual federal Presidents Day holiday on Monday. The extra time was handy because it's not as easy as just flying to Hội An. That town has no airport of its own. Visitors fly to the nearest airport and then make their way some thirty-odd kilometers down the South China Seacoast to town. Hội An was a significant port already two thousand years ago, blossoming into a bustling multicultural hub for global trade by the eighteenth century, home to a significant population of Japanese, Chinese and European merchants. But during the Tây Sơn Rebellion, isolationist sentiment drove much of this foreign element away. When the European market was reopened by victorious Emperor Gia Long, he repaid French assistance with exclusive use of the port in Đà Nẵng, which became the next big thing. Unused, river access to port Hội An silted-up and the city fossilized over the following two centuries, becoming the kind of hamlet-cum-museum just catnip to tourists. This probably also protected Hội An from Vietnam's decades of war, which really ravaged its port replacement to the north. Today, the small city is populated by tourism and its fallout: chockablock with amenities but also punctuated by neat centuries-old stuff. A thriving garment industry is the one local factory production in evidence. Hội An has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 'ninety-nine. Its nearby beach is a little precarious, its unprotected waters ripped by dangerous tides for portions of the year. But it has that pretty tropical palm fringe you see in all the photos. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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