Hoi An, Vietnam

Beaches, bikes, food, lanterns.

Hop on a bike; it’s the best way to explore Hoi An.  This sleepy quaint town is quite pedestrian friendly. Below is a description of Hoi An from the Vietnamese Tourist board:

“Hoi An was one of the major trading centers of Southeast Asia in the 16th century. Hoi An has a distinct Chinese atmosphere with low, tile-roofed houses and narrow streets; the original structure of some of these streets still remains almost intact. All the houses were made of rare wood, decorated with lacquered boards and panels engraved with Chinese characters. Pillars were also carved with ornamental designs”.

The evenings are the most beautiful. Every 14th of the month, Hoi An has a Lunar festival.  I was there just a few days before it and in the evening all the streets, bridges, and restaurants were lit up by colorful lanterns.

They even have large lantern displays on the water.

To me, it was one of the most beautiful and romantic parts of Vietnam.  The traffic almost comes to a standstill here compared to Hanoi. The Old Town is pedestrian/bikes only, so you do not have to fight for your life when crossing the street.  It was such a peaceful setting.

In the mornings, I would bike 3 km to the nearby beach of An Bang  With its crystal clear blue water and miles of clean sand, I was the only one on the beach.  I later saw a small fisherman going out to sea in a circular boat.

People are quite friendly there.  After spending a day at cooking school, I took a boat back to the Old Town.  On my way back to the Old Town, I stopped next to an old Vietnamese fisherman and watched him cast a net with his bare hands old school style.  It was almost as though he had created his own dance using his whole body.  He then asked me if I wanted to try it.  It definitely looked easier when he did it.  To my disappointment, my net did not go far and I did not catch anything.

My stay at a small bed and breakfast was equally pleasant. Every morning started with a big breakfast of whatever I wanted from the restaurant menu. The staff greeted me with avocado shakes and plates of fruits upon my return to the hotel after wandering around under the hot sun. The day I left, they even gave me a small parting gift (a purple hand-made wallet).

I definitely hope to come back someday and maybe even experience the lunar festival in Hoi An. FYI the food is equally amazing!

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