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Merry Xmas from Hoi An

There is a bigger non Buddhist community in Vietnam than you would expect, with a surprisingly extensive celebration of Xmas. I arrived at 8 am this morning on the Sleeper bus from Nah Trang, a bumpy ride, it was ok and I got some sleep.

Christmas-sunset-dinner-cruise-Hoi-An-Vietnam

Arriving at the Home stay it seemed they were full so I was in put in another part which actually was a lovely room, great location and very quiet. The lady from the Home stay surprised me with an invitation to have dinner her family that evening, well its Xmas eve and I’ve just arrived so I jumped at the chance. In the meantime I set out to explore Hoi An, and very pretty it is too, yes plenty of tourists around every corner but if you get past that and enjoy the mix of Japanese, French, Vietnamese , Chinese and I think also Dutch influence then its quite a striking place.

Here is Lonely Planets description.

 “Graceful, historic Hoi An is Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town. Once a major port, it boasts the grand architecture and beguiling riverside setting that befits its heritage, but the 21st-century curses of traffic and pollution are almost entirely absent. Whether you’ve as little as a day or as long as a month in the town, it’ll be time well spent.

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Hoi An owes its easygoing provincial demeanour and remarkably harmonious old-town character more to luck than planning. Had the Thu Bon River not silted up in the late 19th century – so ships could no longer access the town’s docks – Hoi An would doubtless be very different today. For a century, the city’s allure and importance dwindled until an abrupt rise in fortunes in the 1990s, when a tourism boom transformed the local economy. Today Hoi An is once again a cosmopolitan melting pot, one of the nation’s most wealthy towns, a culinary mecca and one of Vietnam’s most important tourism centres.

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This revival of fortunes has preserved the face of the Old Town and its incredible legacy of tottering Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses – though, of course, residents and rice fields have been gradually replaced by tourist businesses. Lounge bars, boutique hotels, travel agents and a glut of tailor shops are very much part of the scene here. And yet, down by the market and over on Cam Nam Island you’ll find life has changed little. Travel a few kilometres further – you’ll find some superb bicycle, motorbike and boat trips – and some of central Vietnam’s most enticing, bucolic scenery and beaches are within easy reach.”

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