Libmonster ID: U.S.-1446
Author(s) of the publication: P. TSVETOV

Vietnam is experiencing a tourism boom. In 2005 alone, the country was visited by 3.5 million tourists from abroad, and in the first eight months of 2006, their number exceeded 2.5 million. It is obvious that everyone who comes to Vietnam has their own goal: someone wants to relax under the palm trees on the warm sandy beaches of the South China Sea, someone wants to get acquainted with architectural monuments and natural beauty, and there are those who are attracted to the images of literature and cinema, who want to see places where they lived, loved, the characters of Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" or Regie Varnier's film "Indochina"suffered. I have met such people among the French. And among the tourists from America, there are many who want to visit the places of former battles of the Indochina war, in which they themselves or their relatives participated.

There is a lot to see in Vietnam. This is also evidenced by this fact. UNESCO has ranked five sites on the territory of Vietnam among the treasures of world civilization. These are Halong Bay, Phongnya Caves, the former imperial capital Hue, Michon Towers and the ancient town of Hoi An. The latter, which is still little known in our country, deserves a separate detailed discussion.

Hoi An is located 30 km south of Da Nang, the largest city in Central Vietnam. Once you reach Hoi an by bus or car, you will not immediately appreciate the uniqueness of this city. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary seaside town. After getting off the bus and trusting "your two friends", you will be able to get to the old quarter, which is the highlight of Hoi An. All traffic is prohibited there.

Vietnam has many cities older than Hoi An. But the country's tumultuous political history, full of wars and internal conflicts, has so changed their appearance, and many buildings and entire neighborhoods have been rebuilt so often,that sometimes what appears to be an old one turns out to be a new one. For example, the famous "Tua moth kot" ("Pagoda on one pillar") in Hanoi, which local guides present as a work of temple architecture of the XI century, was actually built in 1955, as a copy from the original, blown up during the first Indochina War. But Hoi An has preserved traces of past centuries, in it 844 buildings are recognized by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as historical relics.

In Hoi an, too, some things have been restored. But the brutal wars of the twentieth century, which brought destruction to most of Vietnam's settlements, somehow passed by the museum city. And if you walk along the so-called "Japanese bridge" to the streets that today bear the names of figures of the national liberation movement Chan Phu and Nguyen Thai Hok*, you will find yourself in a Vietnamese city of the XII century (for this, however, you need to ignore the inevitable souvenir shops in the tourist center). Go to one of the houses that have actually turned into museums with an entrance fee, such as the Tan Ki family or the Quan Thang family, and you will learn how a typical Vietnamese house is built, how its inhabitants lived. True, due to the peculiarities of the historical development of this city, the dwelling of its inhabitants could not fail to experience a certain influence of Chinese and Japanese architecture, but in general it is insignificant.

The facade and the first room of the house say a lot about his classes

Chang Fu (1901-1931), first General Secretary of the Communist Party of Indochina. Nguyen Thai Hoc (1904-1930) was a Vietnamese National Party leader who was executed by the French colonialists for organizing the Yenbai Uprising.

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tenants: if the owner is a craftsman, then the first room is his workshop, if the merchant is a shop, if the doctor is an examination room. For personal life-rooms on the second floor, there is also an altar of ancestors, that is, a place for spiritual communication. At the bottom, after the room is open to guests, the patio is essentially a part of the house that is not covered with a roof. Due to the lack of a roof, the courtyard can perform several functions: let in daylight, provide fresh air, and collect rainwater in barrels for household needs. But the main thing is a place of communication of the Vietnamese with nature, space, because nothing can distract the inhabitant of such a house from admiring the full moon or bright constellations in the dark southern sky. Behind the courtyard are utility rooms or utility rooms for cooking, washing and other household chores.

Although the houses in Hoi An are similar to their counterparts, for example, in Hanoi or Nam Din, they have their own specifics: the back part does not rest against the fortress wall or in the field, but faces the river. And this is not accidental. Along the Kui River, merchants received their goods in bulk and took them out to retail on the street. You probably won't see such logistics in other cities.

Hoi an was not just a city of merchants and artisans. In the 11th and 13th centuries, it was a center of international trade that rivaled Macau, and it was home, sometimes in whole blocks, to large groups of foreigners: Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, French, and others. It is difficult to say who the first inhabitants of Hoi An or Faifo, as it was also called, were by nationality. According to official Vietnamese historiography, the city was founded between 1613 and 1621 under Prince Phuoc Nguyen of the Nguyen family. The city became a place where the Vietnamese authorities allowed ships of Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese merchants to dock. Here, they were charged fees. However, the same historians admit that the Hoi An area as a place where merchant ships call was known much earlier. Even before 1306, when these lands passed from the administration of the kings of the state of Tham to the jurisdiction of the Vietnamese emperor, Chinese, as well as Persian and Arabic sources reported about this. And there is every reason to believe that even before Nguyen Phuoc Nguyen, the city of Hoi An (probably it then had a different name) was a trading point for merchants of different countries, primarily Chinese and Japanese. Both were so numerous that they occupied the main streets of Hoi an, preventing the Vietnamese from settling there.

Japanese homes were considered the best in the city. Often they were made of stone, with a front garden and a special sun umbrella in front of the entrance. The Nguyen princes valued their good relations with the Japanese. They provided them with edged weapons (Japanese swords and sabers were considered the best in the region) and served in their army. But after 1637, when the rulers of Japan forbade their subjects to leave the country, the Japanese stopped visiting Hoi An for a long time. And those who stayed behind eventually found their last refuge in Hoi An land. Graves have been preserved to this day, and sometimes their visits are included in tourist routes.

The most striking evidence of the presence of children of the Land of the Rising Sun in the city is the so-called "Japanese bridge". The Vietnamese also call it "Tua Kau" - "Pagoda Bridge", because on this humped bridge a small temple was built in honor of one of the Taoist saints. According to legend, this saint could tame the giant monster Ku, which caused earthquakes in Japan with its tail. The head of this monster is supposedly located in India, and the back is just in Hoi An. So the Japanese had a reason to pray to this saint here. The bridge is narrow and pedestrian, and it could not have been any other in the Middle Ages, when dignitaries traveled in palanquins or on stretchers carried by servants on their shoulders. According to legend, this bridge was always busy - there was trading, guessing, praying.

On one side of the bridge there are stone figures of a monkey, on the other - a dog. According to some researchers, this suggests that the construction of the bridge began in the Year of the monkey, and ended in the Year of the Dog, i.e. lasted three years. It is appropriate to recall that both the Japanese and China-

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Both the Chinese and Vietnamese use images of twelve mythical animals in the traditional chronology.

It is believed that the "Japanese bridge" was built at the end of the XI century, and it is known for certain that in 1719 the pagoda on the bridge was visited by Prince Phuoc T'au of the Nguyen family. But there is still a debate about who was the builder of this original structure. It is believed that it was not the Japanese who built the bridge and pagoda, but the Chinese who lived in Hoi an. And the guide who accompanied our group on a trip to Vietnam from the Saigonturist company expressed a more patriotic opinion: the builders of this wonderful object were Vietnamese. There is nothing unrealistic about this assumption. The Vietnamese had experience in building similar structures, and there are plenty of builders among them.

The Chinese arrived in these parts before the XI century, they were attracted by such local goods as salt, gold, and cinnamon. But on a massive scale, the Han people began to settle in Hoi an, as in other parts of the Indochina Peninsula, after coming to power in the Middle Manchu Empire, i.e. from the second half of the XII century. Fleeing from the new rulers, Chinese people from several southern provinces of China, in particular, Guangdong, Fujian, and Hainan, found refuge in Hoi an. Subsequently, each of the communities had its own meeting houses, which can still be seen in Hoi An today.

One of the most visited houses of Chinese immigrants (Huaqiao) in Hoi an today is the Phuokkien Pagoda, founded by merchants from Fujian provinces. It was built in 1697, and the main object of veneration in it is the figure of the Heavenly Princess, brought by the Fujians from their native places along with the stones that were used to build the walls of the temple. So say the local huaqiao. Inside the temple, in addition to the statue of the goddess who helps navigators, there are also fifty sculptures depicting famous characters of Chinese mythology: fairies, generals, thinkers. Among these "Chinese" was one of the characters of Vietnamese history-the famous doctor Huu Chak. His statue is kept in the temple under a glass cap.

Even before entering this temple, visitors can't help but admire the courtyard planted with flowers and ornamental trees and the grand three-arched gate that separates the temple complex from Hoi An Street.

The meeting house of people from Guangdong Province is also of interest. Inside the room, the columns that support the roof are made of solid pieces of dark granite. But personally, I was struck by the huge black electric fans in this house. Fifty years ago, they were probably considered the most outstanding achievement among household appliances. Now they look like something antique.

From the end of the 19th century, the Chinese community began to decline markedly - Huaqiao merchants began to move to larger port cities, the development of which was taken care of by the French colonizers who had conquered Vietnam by that time - to neighboring Da Nang and, of course, to Saigon, the recognized business center of Indochina. And the importance of Hoi An as a seaport with the arrival of the French and their large ships came to naught.

Today, out of the 60,000 residents of Hoi An, Chinese emigrants from-

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put about 2 thousand people. By all accounts, they are quite naturally integrated into the local environment, and many even communicate with each other in Vietnamese at home.

Europeans have been appearing en masse in Hoi An since the beginning of the twelfth century. They were representatives of the famous Dutch, British and French East India Companies. Most of them didn't manage to stay in Hoi An for long. Although the Dutch had a trade mission, it only existed in the city from 1636 to 1641. The reason, apparently, is that local authorities often changed the rules of trade, making it unprofitable for Europeans. In addition, they say that Europeans, unlike the Chinese, did not know how to appease local officials in such a way. The exception was the Portuguese, who were in Hoi An earlier than other Europeans. They sailed to the Vietnamese coast from their colony of Macau in China and helped the local rulers with weapons, in particular cannons. In gratitude, the Nguyens allowed the Portuguese to establish their own settlement, but they apparently never took advantage of it.

One of the most remarkable pages in the history of European residence in Hoi An is associated with the name of Alexander de Roda. Born in Marseille, he traveled as a Jesuit monk in many Eastern countries (only in Vietnam he lived for more than 20 years, and died in Persia). Father Alexander arrived in Hoi An in 1625 from Japan, where by that time the persecution of Christians had begun. In Vietnam, Alexander De Rod learned the Vietnamese language in communication with local residents and after five years of stay in the country (including the first three years in Hoi An) created a Latin-based script for the Vietnamese language. Initially, the new alphabet was used to express the Holy Scriptures and other Christian texts, but later, from the beginning of the XX century, the Latin alphabet became widespread, replacing the Chinese characters that educated Vietnamese people used for several centuries. Of course, the Romanization of the Vietnamese language was a great positive event in the history of Vietnamese culture. It provided an increase in the literacy rate of the population in the XX century, thanks to which Vietnam still occupies one of the leading places in Asia in terms of education of citizens. After all, it is well known that Latin letters are easier to remember than hieroglyphs.

Thus, Hoi An can rightly be proud of the fact that modern Vietnamese writing was born here. True, in Hoi An itself, the memory of the "father of Vietnamese writing" is not marked in any way, but it is immortalized in the largest city of Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City. There's a street in the city center named after Alexandre De Roda.

Evidence of decades of French occupation in Hoi An, however, has also been preserved. This is a Catholic cathedral, and on Fan Boi Chau Street you can see a number of two-story houses with columns, typical of many cities in colonial Indochina.

* * *

Such diverse pictures of history pop up in the imagination of travelers traveling through the streets of Hoi An. But in recent years, local authorities, realizing that tourism brings a good income, have made considerable efforts to create the best opportunities for other types of recreation in the ancient city. Just a few minutes 'drive from the streets where Chinese, Japanese and Dutch merchants' goods were once stored, several first-class hotels with clean sandy beaches, cozy comfortable rooms, and fine Oriental cuisine have recently been built. At the same time, the owners manage to maintain the resort's atmosphere of peace and tranquility, so valued in our turbulent times.

For tourists, another entertainment in the spirit of Eastern philosophy has also been invented. On the 14th day of each lunar month, a special festival is held: no lights are lit on the streets of the ancient city at night, but the light of the full moon leaves a fantastic impression of walking in Hoi An. The traditional craft of Hoi An residents - silk weaving, which has made the city famous throughout the region-has also been" promoted". A lot of workshops with their own shops attract the most picky tourists with their products made of natural silk. Local shops also offer antiques. But keep in mind: in 99% of cases, these are fakes that are made in one of the neighboring villages (an honest guide will even tell you which one).

For those who don't have enough experience with Hoi An, we recommend visiting the nearby cities of Da Nang and Hue, which are also full of world-class attractions.

Hoi An - Moscow

* Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940) - one of the most famous figures of the national liberation movement in Vietnam at the beginning of the XX century.

What the magazine wrote about 10 years ago

...Of course, Arabs, Turks, Iranians, as well as Africans, Vietnamese, dances, Indians, etc. are attracted to France by a higher standard of living and level of culture, the opportunity to find use for their abilities, get an education, earn money. Make no mistake about the living conditions of Asians and Africans, especially Arabs, as the very first and foremost among the Eastern immigrants in France. Their stay in French cities is associated with many difficulties, which are primarily determined by differences in lifestyle.


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