Japanese Bridge, Hoi An Old Town

The Japanese Bridge is probably the best known and definitely the most popular attraction in the Hoi An Old Town. When times are normal and the Old Town is crowded with tourists, the bridge is packed with people from morning well into the evening. Of course, these are not normal times. At 6:30 am on a recent Tuesday morning, there was not a soul in the frame when I took this shot. Though a couple of morning joggers passed through the bridge as I approached with my camera.

If one searches the Japanese Bridge in English, several travel sites provide colorful information about the site, with each site offering brief and rather different tales of the bridge’s origin and history.

I eventually found a Vietnamese language entry on the Vietnamese version of Wikipedia and made my way slowly – very slowly and with the help of Google Translate – through what it had to say. I arbitrarily decided this page written by a Vietnamese was more likely to be accurate than the fairy tales being fed to English speaking tourists. In any case, the bridge was built in the 17th century by Japanese traders. At the time, Hoi An was an important trading port on the coastal routes connecting China and Japan with SE Asia and India and the Arab Middle East beyond. The city housed resident communities of foreign merchants from several locales. One website speculates that Japanese built the bridge to facilitate contact with the Chinese merchant community on the other side of the waterway.

The bridge has been renovated or restored several times during its more than 300 year history. The Vietnamese information says that many of the original Japanese style features and decorations on the bridge have been replaced with Vietnamese and Chinese motifs.

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Scott Farm, near Brattleboro, Vermont

During my stay in Amherst, friend Kate and I drove up to Brattleboro Vermont to take a look. Among other things, we struck out to visit the home of Rudyard Kipling, which is located a few miles north of Brattleboro. It had never occurred to me that Kipling wrote part or all of Kim and other stories about India in a rustic New England location. File that under life is full of small surprises. In any case, the Kipling house is rented out to private parties – one cannot even enter the grounds to look at the house from the outside. Undaunted, we continued down Kipling Road for a ways until we came upon the Scott Farm. We turned into the driveway in search of apples – mid-September is apple season after all. The farm did indeed have apples, and it also was home to something called The Stone Trust – a school that trains and certifies people to build dry stone walls. School was not in session during out visit, but it was interesting to walk around the grounds and see evidence of the students’ efforts.

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Tan Dinh Church, Saigon

Nhà Thờ Tân Định is a Roman Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. A well-known local landmark, the church was built about 150 years ago when southern Vietnam was a French colony called Cochinchina, a part of French Indochina. I have no idea what the pink color is about. Da Nang’s Roman Catholic cathedral is also a garish pink.

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