I love old towns. I love the idea of how these quaint towns have stayed alive, evolved with times and yet stayed charming and touched hearts over the centuries. Gamla Stan ( #throwback to Old Town Again), Tallin (#throwback to Tallin on coach and Tallin on foot) and Old Uppsala (#throwback to I can still see the sky of Old Uppsala) are some of my favorite old towns – you guess right, Scandinavia was where this romance started. And #throwback on Christmas Day brings back fond memories of white old towns.
Lately, I have started to appreciate old towns nearer home. When I visit Asia, I have always gone right into the heart of the cities – gigantic architecture/museums, dazzling promenade, shopping districts, theme parks, Michelin restaurants are flashing in my head as I press – and overlooked the old towns.
So it was quite cool to chill in the ancient town in Hoi An when we visited Danang, Central Vietnam in April in spite of the hot weather! One can easily spend a day getting lost in the streets lined with shop houses with Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese influences. Today, most are restaurants and shops with a few key landmarks that tell the Hoi An story.
Hoi An Bridge was one of the first sights that greeted us when we entered the old town. Spot any Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese influences? On it is a temple. Crossing it brought us to a street that sells art work, mainly paintings, in shops that feel like galleries – spacious, neat, quiet till you decide to get one. That’s when the chatter and bargaining start.
Had a good time in Hoi An – beyond the old town, we went on a food tour and visited My Son Sanctuary. Shall live to press about these another day. Now off to the old towns in Wuxi and Suzhou!
Travelling with the family to China in June was memorable – it has been years since we traveled so long, so far together. For me, it has also been like a decade since my last guided tour. While I still prefer to travel free & easy, it feels good to follow an itinerary for a change.
Heard about water towns in China liken to Venice in the east? I took it with a pinch of salt but having seen them for myself , the old towns in Wuxi (Nanchang Street) and Suzhou (Shantang Street) are quite charming. While Venice is more blue, chic (#throwback to Italy – Venice – D10 – Grand Canal), Nanchang Street and Shantang Street are more green, rustic.
A view of the other side of the canal from Nan Chang Street.
Shan Tang Street lined with shops and restaurants on both side of the canal.
We spotted Haagen Dazs and Starbucks along the canal on Nanchang Street. You would find restaurants and shops on Shantang Street too. It’s surreal. Because they fitted right in – a sign of old towns moving with changing times. Wish I had more time to explore them but well, had to leave on the dot of an hour whilst on a guided tour 😛
Glad I chose to press on Christmas Day this year, reminiscing about my travels. Cannot remember what I did last year! But I remember that all I want for Christmas last year was a white Christmas – that didn’t come true this year. It’s been a sunny-turned-raining day in Singapore today. This year, all I want for Christmas is to travel more and make more presses on them. What is your wish? Hope it comes true. Merry Christmas! 🙂