Imagine a town where every building is at least 100 years old, and where those buildings have either been restored to their original splendor and are now hotels, restaurants, or bars, or they have been aged by tropical rain and the constant creeping of tropical vegetation. You place that town in Vietnam and you have Hoi An. But having 100+ year old houses is not descriptive enough, as these although mostly being French colonial structures, are also Japanese, given Hoi An's importance as a historic trading port, or Chinese, due to the number of refugees that left China when the Ming dynasty was overthrown, and not to mention of course the Vietnamese ones that blended all of these three. After the hypercramped days at the hostel in Hue, we looked in the opposite direction for our lengthier stopover in Hoi An, as far as the 'Life Heritage Resort'. This gorgeous, expansive compound on the riverfront, refurbished back to its early 20th century roots as a playground for French colonizers, and whose current clientelle was also predominantly French. Still by far the cheapest of our more luxurious accomodations, the hotel, whose theme could not be more of a cliche(welcome to life) included 4 half hour massages, free buffet breakfast, 60 USD in food and beverage credits, free cab to the airport, and free bicylces to use, not to mention a free shuttle to the beach. We devoted only one day to the beach, which could and should have been more, given its minimal distance, white sand, cheap seafood restaurants and fruit cocktails, if it hadn't been for the beautiful pool on the far side of the grounds. Thinking back it is quite easy to see how the days went by as fast as they did. This is not to say there isnt much to do or see in Hoi An, as the entire town has protected Unesco status. As a result, they have tried to make the center of town an open air museum, where cars, motorbikes and even bicycles are not allowed during most of the day, and you arent supposed to be able to enter without paying an entrance ticket. This then gains you also entrance to a set of specific sights. Firstly, you can enter one of the two principal attractions of the city, being the largest confucionist temple or what is known as the Japanese Covered bridge. We visited the latter one evening, given its appearance is augmented by lanternlight. The bridge connected two neighborhoods of the city, The Japanese and the Chinese quarters, that were divided by a creek, and which had much more of an ancient feel than equally old chinese buildings. Each side had a pair of stone gargoyles 'protecting' each side, but I am not sure how scary monkey guards would be compared to guard dogs, specially as anna said the monkey's looked like they were defending the entrance to a brothel. The only scary part, according to her, were a few bats that were flapping around. Next, we were able to visit one of the cities assembly halls, most of which were built by differing Chinese immigrant groups. We visited one called the Fujian Assembly Hall, but I figure it was a part of Mandarin China and not the pacific island it took its name after. It was particularly pictoresque, having a large garden/courtyard in front of the main building, which looked and felt much more like a temple than a mere assembly hall, and in fact may have been the nicest temple we had visited on the trip so far. We also visited a historic vietnamese house in the town, as part of the ticket, currently inhabited by the 7th generation of the initial owners, with pictures on the walls showing the last 4 generations of those who had lived and were still living there. The family, in its origin, must have been part of the wealthy, merchant class, as the house was quite beautiful and much larger than most houses, having a pair of courtyards, and leading from the second street all the way down to the river. A particularly interesting sight were marks upon a wall of the levels the river had flooded to in the past, including last year, and how the house had been built with this in mind and so had a whole area with a enlarged second story, and a pulley-elevator to move things quickly up to the second floor, in case of impending rising water levels. We then thought to visit one of the town's museums, also part of the ticket, but instead used a 'voucher' to visit another house, which was quite similar to the first, but felt more lived in, while the first one definitely had a quality of being more a museum and less of a house in use. The town really came alive at night, as people released candles inside floating paper lamps onto the river, as well as there being many lanterns strung about the old center, particularly across a bridge that went from the heart of the old town across to an island where the UNESCO rules did not apply, and as such had several new buildings and a much livelier nightlife. In the river itself were a few illuminated sculptures, some of which were typical of southeast asia, such as the everpresent turtle, but some were a bit stranger, like a pair of rather suspicious looking kittens. The real jewel in the crown of Hoi An, however, is the food. Every place we ate was great, and one meal was without a doubt the best one we have had on our entire trip, where we got specifically the specialties of the city, one of which, because of the Chinese influence, was fried wontons, but would put any others to shame, given a blend of herbs and sauces and incredibly tasty tomatoes on top of the wantons themselves. In addition Hoi An also provided me with the best Ice Tea of my life, the best mango sorbet, and the most mouthwatering calamari ever. Ho Chi Minh city was to be our next stop, and even though it has been touted as having the best dining options in all of Vietnam, Hoi An would prove an incredibly hard act to follow in that respect.