Hoi An, a City of Lanterns

Hoi An, Vietnam

Venice of Southeast Asia


August 2015

There was no place that I lamented the loss of my camera more than in beautiful Hoi An. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is bursting with color.

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The canal system that ran between the timeless golden buildings reflected a pastel sky.

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The city’s streets were lines with cafes and some of the world’s best tailors, and every alleyway and shop facad was strewn with unique lanterns. Hoi An also had a lot of gorgeous flowering trees.

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Hoi An was a great city to aimlessly wander.

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No trumpets allowed

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On our first afternoon there, my friend and I bought a couple of coconuts from a little booth on a street corner. The juice was refreshing and the vessel was a lot of fun to sip out of. Tip: if you bring your coconut back to the vender after drinking your fill, they will use a machete to chop it up for you so you can enjoy the fruit’s meat as well! At only a couple of cents, this is a great way to feel fancy.

We also had a pretty funny conversation with a vendor who was trying to sell us some arsty lighters. The lighters were pretty cool, honestly, and the vendor was friendly. We asked him if he could tell us more about Ho Chi Mihn, (who was depicted on one of the lighters), but because of the language barrier, we got a comical response that was something along the lines of “he was a man.”

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Fishing nets in Hoi An

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Hoi An felt very safe and accessible, but also pretty touristy. The touristy thing isn’t an issue for me at all, but I just want to throw out the warning.

It’s a great place to meet backpackers and take photos. The most expensive souvineers were still extremely cheap.

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A vendor sells flying paper toys

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Along the main canal were a lot of restaurants, art galleries, shops, and travel agencies.

We also visited the old historical bridge a couple of times, which was lit up beautifully at night:

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View from Hoi An’s old bridge

 

One of my favorite Hoi An pictures was of a newlywed couple:

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A wedding couple seen in Hoi An

 

Near the main bridge were a lot of booths selling bland donuts. This seems like a pretty arbitrary observation, but I swear it is worth mentioning. There are so many donut vendors in Vietnam, and the donuts aren’t even good, or purchased by the locals. It’s weird.

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Sunsets in Hoi An were absolutely breathtaking. Because of this, the main canal drew a lot of crowds.

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Vendors sold floating lanterns.

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The main bridge was lit up brilliantly at night time, and the hundreds of paper lanterns floating down the canal were absolutely gorgeous.

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Again, I lament the loss of my camera. This just doesn’t do the city justice, especially the hundreds of glittering lanterns reflected on the mirror of the water.

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Young girls selling floating lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam

(This picture is especially upsetting to me, because the scene I was trying to capture was National-Geographic worthy.)

At night time, westerners hired by the local bars would stand around the popular areas to promote their businesses. It was fun to get into conversations with other travelers.

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On our last night, we decided to purchase lanterns of our own, to send off along the canal. The lantern vendors were extremely pushy and aggresive, and it was hard to walk along the main canal in the evening without being asked many times if you wanted to purchase one. So when they realized we were in the market for lanters, they all suddenly converged on us! It was a bit scary. Three old ladies surrounded one of my friends, each pushing lanterns onto her. The old lady who had been talking with my friend first got extremely upset that her turf was infringed upon, and she actually ended up smacking another old lady, sending her tray of lanterns scattering.

We caused an old lady fight! In the moment it was very uncomfortable, but looking back, this was probably one of the funniest things that happened to us.

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The Hoi An night market was a bit small, but enjoyable nonetheless. The stalls selling lanterns were lit up brilliantly.

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Most of the stalls in this particular night market had signs that said different things along the lines of “We won’t hassle you to buy things!” which was etremely ironic, because the vendors would be pushy and hassle us, but they would do so by saying things like, “you can just look! I won’t hassle you! come look!”

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One night, we were exploring the night market for a bit while on the lookout for a place ot eat. All of my friends wanted to get more bahn mi sandwiches. However, 1. I am not a big sandwich fan (even though Vietnamese bahn mi is delicious), and 2. I was only in Asia for a few more days! I wanted to try something new as often as possible. We decided to split up, and I would meet them back at the night market when I was done eating.

I walked along the main canal, and although I expected all the restaurants to be overpriced, I was starving. I ended up agreeing to a hostess who asked me if I was hungry, and she was very surprised by my “yes”y Vit

And to my surprise, the food was very reasonably priced. Sure, it was expensive by Vietnamese standards, but I only ended up paying like $7 for three courses.

I had a Hoi An specialty, the White rose dumpling. They were delicious.

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I also had the best egg rolls of my life. No question about it, I will never have egg rolls as delicious as this.

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I also just really enjoyed being on my own for a moment, to reflect on how blessed I am to be in such beautyful places, experiencing such unique things. I listened to the music and the crowds along the street, and I watched the floating lanterns drift by from my balcony view.

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Hoi An was a truly remarkable place.

 

 

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