Day 19: Hoi An – Ancient Town

Pati and BeeBee were up this morning at 5:30 am after a relaxing 8 hours of sleep. They had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and spent time internetting. They were scheduled for a short touring day, including lunch and visits to old structures in the Ancient Quarter, and so could afford a later start.

At 10:30, they met their guide for a walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky House and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge constructed in 1593.

The Fujianese Assembly Hall is dedicated to the sea goddess Thien Hau, who saved the passengers on the ship bringing them from China. (The model ship in the temple is 1/20 actual size.)

The sea goddess had two helpers, the God of Seeing that could see any danger within 1000 miles and the God of Hearing that could hear any danger within 1000 miles. They would inform the goddess of any dangers and she would come to save the ship.

Also in this temple are three shrines for the gods of prosperity (money), ancestors (parents), and fertility (childbirth). A young couple was praying to the god of fertility.


When they got to the Japanese Covered Bridge, the guide took them for a side view of it, and gave them a crisp 20,000 Vietnamese dong bill (worth just under $1 USD, but still significant for him) to keep. On one side of the bill is a lithograph of the bridge. He wanted them to have the bill as a souvenir of Hoi An. (BeeBee has saved it safely in their travel binder.)

After this, the guide took them to a river-side restaurant for a delicious, filling lunch.

Even though they were stuffed from lunch, their guide wanted them to experience the best banh mi sandwich in Vietnam, which coincidentally is made in Hoi An. He bought them each a banh mi sandwich from the best sandwich stand in Hoi An, which they decided to save for dinner. (You can see this sandwich described by Anthony Bourdain at  This is the same shop that they visited.) After this, their touring day was officially over, but their guide stayed with them to navigate the streets for more efficient shopping. Then the guide and driver took them back to their hotel.

After cooling off, they asked the hotel staff for help in getting Pati a haircut and beard trim. The young concierge walked with Pati to a nearby local barber shop and stayed with him to be sure the barber understood what he wanted. This haircut and trim cost 50,000 dong, around $2.25 USD.

They then took a taxi back into town and to do some souvenir shopping. They also bought an extra duffle bag/suitcase for 350,000 dong (around $16 USD) since their accumulated souvenirs now exceed their luggage space.


As they were walking up a street in the market, a man called out to them, asking where they were from. This happens a lot when someone wants to sell something, but this man had nothing to sell. He told them that he had lived in Hoi An all his life. He is taking lessons in English and his teacher has assigned him homework to write on a topic he could select from a list of topics. He chose to write about Hoi An. He asked them to read his homework and give him feedback. He led them into his house, which was just behind them, and gave them seats while they read his assignment. It was written on just over one page in a notebook like those a school child would have, with a cute animal on the cover. The essay was excellent. His handwriting was uniform and clear; his grammar and spelling were perfect; and his topic was well developed. Pati and BeeBee praised his work. He was eager to talk, to practice his spoken English, and they discussed several subjects. Finally, Pati and BeeBee excused themselves and left. What a rewarding experience!



They took advantage of their last night in Hoi An to walk through the streets just looking at everything.


Near one of the bridges, they watched a young couple standing in a boat; it seemed to be a wedding ceremony. A nearby boat was full of candles in small paper boats for floating down the river.

After this, they walked back to their hotel. They ate their banh mi sandwiches, and then had dessert and Vietnamese coffee in the hotel restaurant. A musician was in the restaurant, playing music from the 60s on a guitar (e.g., Tom Jones’ Delilah). His arrangements were simple and original, and Pati and BeeBee had fun identifying the tunes.One other couple in the restaurant seemed to recognize the tunes also, but the hotel staff did not.

And now it is time for bed. The packing can wait until tomorrow!