Leonardo at Hoi An and The Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Leonardo at Hoi An and The Thanh Ha Pottery Village

When Miss Ngoc from The Memory Danang hotel in Danang offered us to join their tour to Hoi An and to the Thanh Ha Pottery Village, we did not hesitate and booked a place for me and my boy Leonardo. I was surprised to learn that the tour would not be aboard of a minivan, but by scooter.

Well, we had our great electric scooter, courtesy of The Motorbike Station, and we love adventure. So on a sunny and steaming-hot early afternoon, we left Danang in a group of ‘bikers’, comprising a few guests and four staff from The Memory Danang, for the drive to Hoi An.

Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Leonardo attempting pottery creation

The way was the coastal road, running along an amazing stretch of beach that goes for an amazing 30km, and before long we reached the Thanh Ha Pottery Village, an artisans’ village far from the hustle and bustle of city life. Dating back to the 15th Century, Thanh Ha Pottery Village is rich in history and still carries on the pottery tradition: it has contributed to the creation of many amazing sites in Vietnam throughout the years.

We paid the entrance ticket and walked through the narrow brick layering roads and alleys until we reached a small pottery producing family compound with lots of colourful and original pottery on display. There, an old lady provided us with bags of soft clay and laid hay mats on the floor for us. She then placed a few wooden boards on the mats and put the clay onto them. We were ready to mould!

The shop of an artisan

While the local lady trained our group on how to make pottery, Ms Ngoc told us about a traditional and unique method of manually shaping pottery by hand and foot pedal without using moulds, with final products not enamelled or heated by a traditional wood kiln. We then started making pottery, or at least we attempted making it, coached by the expert lady in the most amazing peace and tranquility that only a local village can guarantee.

Ladies mastering the old art at the pottery village

While this all sounds like a tourist trap, believe when I say that for us it was an excellent opportunity to witness the beauty of traditional craft and the process of creating unique ceramic products from talented and skilful artisans. Needless to say my boy Leonardo enjoyed so much getting his hands dirty with clay and producing small dinosaurs and monstrous figures that would be later dried and delivered to the hotel for him. And at the end of the practice, we received a pottery gift: an hand made ocarina with the shape of an animal.

hand made ocarinas with the shape of various animals

At 5pm it started raining so we decided to skip the Terracotta Museum and headed straight to Hoi An. Hoi An is often described by travellers as one of the tastiest cities in Vietnam, and it is famous for its authentic cuisine and local specialties. There’s a wide selection of eateries to choose from and affordable prices are part of the charm. We entered one of these eateries, and enjoyed an array of local dishes comprising rice paper and mussels, all yummy of course! After the meal, it was time to walk along the alleys of historical Hoi An.

Hoi An

A food joint in Hoi An

Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. It remains complete as a homogenous complex of traditional wooden buildings, with the original organically developed street plan within the town’s river/seacoast setting.

Hoi An historical building

Hoi An Ancient Town was classified as a National Cultural Heritage Site in 1985, with a management plan implemented at the time of nomination of the property that is being kept up to date and reviewed as required by UNESCO to ensure that it remains effective

Hoi An is like a living museum: the town’s original street plan and gorgeous architecture have been maintained despite urbanisation, with more than 800 preserved ancient buildings to marvel at. The rain stopped and the group walked the small streets, trying local products like a herbal lemon tea at popular Mot Hoi An tea house, and taking loads of photos. It was hard to walk along streets full of tourists, so we headed to the Hoai River, where an amazing show awaited us.

Tourist boats in the Hoai River

In the water, dozens of wooden boats were transporting customers for the customary 15 minutes boat ride, and old ladies sold lanterns to be released in the river below, which was already replete with them. Releasing lanterns not only brings beauty to traditional culture, but also carries an extremely deep spiritual value to the local people here. All was lit by an amazingly bright full moon.

Leonardo was unimpressed by his herbal tea

Needless to say, Leonardo was speechless. He was so tired that he fell asleep during the bike trip back to Danang. He had so many exciting activities and sights during this half-day tour, but the highlight for him was the care and attention of the amazing staff of The Memory Danang. They all speak excellent English and were also an amazing asset to the tour, as they contributed to many explanations about this amazing cultural heritage. We made it back by 8,30 pm, and we were ready to spend another night in our great room at The Memory Danang.

The Memory Danang reel of tour to Hoi An and The Thanh Ha Pottery Village: https://www.facebook.com/reel/1342824656265013.

Bike Rental

Asian Itinerary traveled to Hoi An on an amazing Vinfast scooter, a Vietnamese version of a Vespa, kindly provided by The Motorbike Station. This one was electric, brand new, and it was yellow. Leonardo and I enjoyed immensely. Contact The Motorbike Station for your bike rental needs in Danang, reach them on Whataspp/Zalo/Wechat/Twitter/Viber/Kakaotalk: (+84) 922 771 171, or email them at themotorbikestation@gmail.com

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more than fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on www.asianitinerary.com

View all articles by Thomas Gennaro