Mr. Selfish and I learned that Hoi An was the first site of Chinese settlement in southern Vietnam. The ethnic Chinese played a large role in Hoi An’s Old Town, particularly the construction of the many assembly halls and temples there. Today, there is approximately 1,300 ethic Chinese living in Hoi An, which has a population of around 75,800.
In Hoi An’s Old Town, you can buy a ticket that allows you to visit five out of the sixteen attractions there. These attractions range from temples, assembly halls, museums, handicraft centers, and orphanages. We primarily chose to visit the temples and assembly halls.
Mr. Selfish and I learned a new phase while visiting the assembly halls and temples – “Vietnamized.” Apparently, the ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese get along quite well in Hoi An because the ethnic Chinese have been Vietnamized, which means that they have been assimilated to the point that they even speak Vietnamese to one another in private. We first noticed the term Vietnamized at Quan Cong’s Temple where the Chinese general to whom the temple is dedicated was Vietnamized.
Second, we visited Trieu Chau Assembly Hall, which was constructed by the Trieu Chau Chinese in 1845. They used the assembly hall to meet and worship the gods and goddesses, who control and prevent the sea from harming the local fishermen.
The third attraction that we visited was Fukien Assembly Hall, which was built in the late 17th century. The hall was a meeting place for the Fukien people and served as an area of worship for the goddesses watching over esteemed generals and midwives.
Fourth, we visited Quang Trieu Assembly Hall, which was built in the 19th century and is a mixture of Cantonese and Hoi An design. Every year in January, the Cantonese in Hoi An hold their annual festival and ancestor worship at Quang Trieu Assembly Hall.
Lastly, we visited the Japanese Covered Bridge, which was built by the Japanese community (which was not as large as the Chinese community) in the 1600’s. It was built roughly 40 years before the Japanese community left the city to return to Japan under the strict policy of sakoku enforced by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The bridge was renovated in 1986 and is now the recognized as the symbol of Hoi An.
Hoi An’s Old Town was quite interesting – particularly due to the Chinese and Japanese influences. Mr. Selfish and I enjoyed wandering around Old Town and just enjoying the sights.