The lanterns in the seaside “city” of Hoi An are captivating. I’m not sure what is it about the bright shapes hanging by the dozen…bright blue and bright green and dark red, that makes me feel like this city is kind and warm? I’m not sure.
At night in the Old Town (the part of the city protected by the UNESCO grant) the shopfronts of restaurants and tailors and souvenir stands are all lit by these globes of color, and the result is a decidedly more romantic and soft feeling than I normally get from places that are predominantly for tourists. Right outside of this area is a market where vendors set up temporary stalls to sell scarves and linen pants and carved hand mirrors…and lanterns. Some have cheesy asian patterns (dragons or bamboo) and others are plain…but they’re all beautiful.
It’s a tourist economy, and everyone knows how to sell. Hanoi has street vendors and tea stalls, but they leave the backpackers alone. In Hoi An they call out to you, suggesting that you might be hungry, thirsty, that you might be short on post cards, flip flops, fans or little carved dolls, that they would LOVE to squire you about the town on a bicycle cyclo.
We wandered. We drank wine on balconies lit by these lanterns, overlooking the pedestrian streets. We walked along the riverbank, admiring the floating paper flowers with a candle floating slowly downstream. We admiring the quiet of this “city”, the darkness of the night, the fresh air, the cool breeze. We wrote post cards to friends over gin & tonics, spent several evenings at a bar by the beach, stood in the sand in the dark looking at the empty expansiveness. We ate deliciously spicy noodles, explored, relaxed.
Visit Hoi An.