AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Hoi An: Old Town

Posted on Dec 15, 2013

The old town of Hoi An is about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. There are a few houses classed as ‘ancient’ houses which were built by merchants in the 17th century. A few temples, meeting halls for the sailors and merchants, etc. Basically, all the buildings you would expect to find in a busy port with people from all around the region sailing in and out. Many Chinese and Japanese influences in the buildings. Hoi An, once known as Faifo, with more than 2,000 years of history, was the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, which controlled the strategic spice trade with Indonesia from the 7th-10th centuries and was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries. The foreign influences are discernible to this day. We visited a large ancient house of Tan Ky, a house which seems to be very famous, PMs and presidents from around the region have been shown around this house and the family still live there. Unfortunately all we could see were a few downstairs rooms, which still looked pretty good. We also visited the Phung Hung house and we were taken round by a younger member of the family, the 8th generation to live in the house. Although we had paid for the ticket the downstairs had an embroidery shop and upstairs had a small tat shop of the usual gifts (in Vietnam no opportunity to sell is missed). The house had some really nice looking features and was an amalgamation of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese architecture. It was also large, the front would’ve been a shop front, the middle for daily life and the back was the kitchen. Upstairs was for storing stock. The Japanese covered bridge is the symbol of the town and a very important building. Built by Japanese traders in the early 1600s to link two parts of the city so they could trade easier. It’s very short. The Chinese communal house is very colourful and has a ornate dragon fountain say the centre of the small courtyard. It is winter here and many of the locals are wrapped up in jumpers or jackets, they complain they feel a  bit chilly. We’re here in T-shirts and dripping with sweat. It’s in the high 20 degrees and about 75% humidity. In the summer it can hit 40! Posted from tp. Hội An, Quang Nam province,...

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Dali: Old Town

Posted on Nov 26, 2013

Dali is actually two towns. There is the new town where the bus and train station are, then 12km away there is the Old town of Dali. An Ancient Kingdom in China famed for its marble, mountains and water. This is one of the top destinations for Chinese backpackers and people who we have met on the way recommended it or were also coming here. Maybe it is because we were spoilt by the clean streets of Lijiang with canals running alongside and under the path. Whatever the reason, Dali has fallen way below expectations. The centre having been rebuilt since 1999 where the streets were made of mud and the houses run down. See the gallery section – Dali. Now the Old Town of Dali is full of Western style cafes and shops. There are four gates which are highly decorated and you can walk a few hundred metres along the wall but that’s about it. Other things to do include walking or taking the cable car up the mountain – Cangshan Mountain We are hoping to go for a horse ride up the mountain tomorrow, all being well. We had to cancel today as we ate at an iffy restaurant, which did not agree with me. Aside from the above and the Three Pagodas it is rather difficult to explore the other ‘must do’ of the Lake unless you own a motorbike or have lots of money like the Chinese Tourists. We had wanted to do a tour that is run by the hostel for a reasonable price but it requires 4 people and the others staying in the hostel appear not to venture out. Another ‘must do’ is the cable car up the mountain but at 230yuan or £23 each, not bad if you are in Switzerland but extremely expensive when a meal out for the locals is 4yuan. Plus it will blow our daily budget. Dali has given us time to purchase a rucksack cover, post a postcard and eat more Western food but with hindsight we’d have spent one day here before heading off to Vietnam earlier to allow more time in Sa Pa and walking through the rice terraces. Posted from Dali, Yunnan,...

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Lijiang: Old Town

Posted on Nov 24, 2013

Yesterday we spent most of the day wandering the narrow streets of the old town of Lijiang. The contrast between the old and new towns couldn’t be greater. The new town is horrible, plain white buildings with no charterer, big busy roads and not much else. The old town on the other hand is great, the old buildings have character and the streets are narrow, winding, smooth from millions of footsteps and often have a stream running beside or under them. We visited Mu’s Palace. It was a bit pricey and not really worth the entrance fee; Only a couple of signs in English and apart from looking at some OK buildings that was it. We saw a better temple complex in Kunming for a tenth of the price. At the rear of the palace is Lion Hill which we climbed to reach Wangu Pavilion. The view over the old town from the 5th floor of the pavilion made the entrance fee (which was another 50 Yuan each) worth it. Posted from Lijiang, Yunnan,...

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