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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travel to Vietnam Part V

18-19 Jun 2008

Around Da Nang, there were many places that visitors could visit. Apart from wide and white sandy beach, here was also located one of UNESCO's World's Heritage Sites namely Hoi An. This place was used to be the centre of ancient Champa Kingdom.

On the second night here, we had opportunity to go to Hoi An to witness Full Moon Festival. However it was unfortunate as the most anticipated full moon was out of sight. Like when we first arrived here, there were thick clouds blanketing Da Nang's sky and that's why the full moon couldn't be seen.

During the festival, lanterns which resembled lotus flowers were offloaded from boats and sampans in the middle of the river and were left drifted. Perhaps because the full moon was not seen, there were not so many boats and sampans in the river. They might not celebrate at this time.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Lanterns were offloaded from a boat in the middle of the river at Hoi An, Vietnam. Not many boats seen perhaps due to the full moon which was out of sight.


Awarded as one of UNESCO's World's Heritage Site few years back, Hoi An was an ancient city where it had become an important port in the past. It was also one of the stops in the spice route. Now the trails that it left has become attractions among backpackers to taste local delicacies, shop and enjoy sea activities. We had another chance to go there again in one afternoon as we had treasure hunt activities there.

Close to Hoi An, there was also located Cham Island which the people there were related to the Malays down South of this region. Da Nang used to be called as Indrapura and this was the centre of once powerful kingdom of Hinduism-Buddhist Champa. According to certain theories, based on artifacts found, the Malays were originated from Cham people.

After Champa Kingdom was annexed by Viet Nam, its last king together with his loyal subjects escaped to Cambodia and started a new civilisation at the bank of Mekong River called Kampong Cham. If we look at the name of Kampong Cham, Cham language and Malay language have a lot of similarities. Kampong in Cham and Malay language means village. There are few other words which are exactly the same meaning such as sungai (river), banyak (a lot), ikan (fish) dan orang (people). Some of Cham people also ran away down South to the states of Terengganu and Kelantan in Malaysia and also to Southern provinces of Thailand. Some had also escaped North to Hainan Island in China. When I was raised as a kid in Terengganu, there were a lot of Cham people selling cloth from house to house. They were good businessmen and businesswomen.

However, not all his subjects ran away as some still resided in Vietnam. Apart from its original location at Cham Island, there were also still resided at Nha Trang. During its golden age, Cham people were converted to Islam by Arabic traders and had close relationship with Abbasid kingdom in Baghdad. It also helped Johor Kingdom to fight against Portuguese in Malacca. I was not very sure those residing at Cham Island still practicing Islam. Some said they still practiced ancient belief although they were Islam, similar to few Javanese in Indonesia.

I had a short chat with one sugar cane juice seller at Hoi An. When he was asked where he's coming from, he simply replied that he was from Cham, not from Vietnam though. I guessed Cham people still believed that they were being colonised by Vietnam. There was a movement to help freeing Cham people from Vietnam but now it was abandoned.

From the beginning, I knew our treasure hunt team would not win. Our friends from Thailand even went shopping instead of completing tasks given! Actually I rued the chance to buy some souvenirs as prices here were much cheaper compared to other places such as Ho Chi Minh City. However, at least I could relax and enjoy taking photos while they were shopping.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Animal-shaped whistles made from clay is one of the famous handcrafts from Vietnam. This picture was taken at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Local delicacies at Hoi An. The ones look like woods are indeed woods that produce fragrance.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Only walkers and primitive vehicle users are allowed here.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Water transportation is still important in Hoi An. A boat from Cham Island is carrying passenger and motorcycles.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A museum at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Carrying loads traditional way is still very much popular in Hoi An. In Penang, sellers used the same way to sell rice and that's how Nasi Kandar was known.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Japanese Bridge built by Japanese during the World War II.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A lady is making lanterns at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Lanterns sold at a shop in Hoi An.


While we were on the way to Hoi An, I could see a former American Air Force depot used during the Vietnam war. Around Da Nang, destructions from war could still be seen. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in sandy areas, there were big holes created from bomb explosions. A temple from Champa Kingdom days was also being restored after destroyed by bomb explosion.

The houses of Vietnamese were indeed unique. The front opening was very narrow, just to fit in a car while the length was extended behind, about double the size of a normal terrace house. For rich people who wanted bigger house, they didn't extend to the next door, but it went upwards until three storey! Didn't know why but I guessed this was because of the shape of the land they owned. The pieces of the lands were actually similar to the shape of each paddy field lot. So, each house was built according to the shape of that land piece.

Another uniqueness about Vietnam was grave at the backyard! In the past, Vietnamese buried the dead in their own backyard. However, the Vietnam government now did not allow this anymore and proper centralised graveyards were made available.

Before the introduction of Roman characters, Vietnamese language used similar characters as Chinese. It was however written and read from the right to the left, similar to Arabic character.

..to be continued..

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A former US Air Force depot in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Vietnamese house - narrow opening but extended behind.


Previous entries:
Travel to Vietnam Part I
Travel to Vietnam Part II
Travel to Vietnam Part III
Travel to Vietnam Part IV
Posted by stROZze at 11:06 PM |  
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