I am extremely grateful that today we spend the day in Hoi An and we don’t have to go anywhere on the motorbikes. I am stiff and sore from being bounced around on the back of the bike, and my butt in particular has taken major strain.
Hoi An is a charming, historic Vietnamese town. Once a major port, it boasts beautiful architecture and an enchanting riverfront. There is an incredible legacy of Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses in the Old City. These have been preserved, restored and converted to restaurants, wine bars, souvenir shops and tailor shops. You can indulge in tasting a wide range of cuisine or take cooking classes, have a silk dress or suit made in a few hours or while away the time with a few glasses of wine, watching life evolve around you.
A few blocks along the riverfront we come across the market, sprawled over a number of roads and pavements. The fish is offloaded directly off the boats on the river on to the market stalls where the lady merchants wash, rinse, water, cut, scale, clean and gut an endless supply of fish to a seemingly endless supply of buyers.
There are the obligatory, colorful fruit and vegetable vendors too, but they congregate along the street side of the market so that passers by are tempted by the colors and fragrances of the vast array of produce available.
Hoi An is a truly beautiful town with a wonderful combination of amazing architecture, people, water and cultural photographs to be taken. We take full advantage of this and spend the entire day walking along the streets, immersing ourselves and indulging our desire for photography.
There are loads of tourists enjoying the treasures here, and unlike other places where I get annoyed with too many people around, I find that in Hoi An they fit the picture so well, belong and almost enhance the experience. The locals have cottoned on to the tourism boom though, and this is the only place throughout my travels in South East Asia where old, toothless people offer to have their photo taken for money. Luckily for them, there are many willing to pay for the souvenir photo and they do a roaring trade.
As the day starts to withdraw and the skies change to a dusky blue, the town puts on her evening ball gown and comes out glittering, entrancing everyone around. Like paparazzi, the flashes go off again and again as everyone tries to capture a little of the magic to take home with them.
Hundreds of street lanterns and shop lights are lit up. The streets are lined with young girls selling floating candles which tourists buy, light up and send off on the river. The river is alive and glowing with dozens of flickering candles making their way with the current. The lanterns strung along and across the streets sway lightly in the breeze, casting light and shadows on the intricate carvings of doorways, temples and alleyways.
It creates a romantic, sensual and hypnotizing effect, and I walk along entranced. A spell has been cast on me. A spell called Hoi An.