So the suntan lotion is out at last, up to 26C today – woo hoo! And of course it is Mother’s Day in the Uk – and for me in Vietnam – a big thank you to my offspring for your gorgeous cards and words, well 5 from David, 10 from Jonathan and 500 from Rachel!!
Our new guide, Chinh, arrived promptly at 08:30. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring apparently, and first stop was a tourist trap at a silk factory and tailors. We dutifully fell into the trap and after asking if the silkworms were real or plastic as they weren’t moving or munching the mulberry leaves they were on (they were real!), someone was measured for a new suit, ready in less than 24 hours. Well when in Rome do as the Romans – look at the photos of the cloth and styles available – his and hers matching perhaps? 🤣
After that we went to the old town of Hoi An. Chinh guided us round and we learnt about how to make incense. The smell of incense is all pervading – they even put the sticks in the grills of their cars when parked. You can see pictures of the sticks on the alters and there are incense spirals hanging from the ceilings in all the temples.
So more education. The imagery is all about the animals associated with the year and 4 specific animals – Turtle for longevity, Phoenix for beauty, Dragon for power and strength and the Unicorn for Royal elegance. The unicorn has no horn here and Rachel please note, we were told that only the turtle is a real animal and all the others are mythical. Yes Rachel, unicorns are not real. Commonly two are put together- the Phoenix on the Turtle brings everlasting beauty. They also believe that carp that live to a thousand years old turn into dragons.
The Japanese Covered Bridge is over 300 years old and dates back to when merchants traded there. Animals are represented here as it was started year of monkey, finished in the year of the dog – so there are two monkeys at one end, and two dogs at the other.
They have a great belief in Ying and Yang and their roofs have convex and concave tiles to represent this, there are “eyes everywhere” – above doors and on the boats – they are supposed to be good luck, protective and guard against evil spirits, and they all have “Ying and Yang” in the middle.
Thus endeth the lesson of the day. So as Europeans we look like tourists whether we have a big or small camera, socks with our sandals or a map. However we are in the minority here. The place is swarming with tourists from South Korea, The commonest tourist Knick knack that they sell is not the fridge magnet, which I am accumulating, but the selfie stick – metal, or plastic, Bluetooth or manual, colour – any colour there is, sparkly or jewel encrusted – no problem. They sell more of these than anything else. People walk around with them out infront of them, behind them, above them and at knee level. Its almost as dangerous as the traffic.
The Vietnamese all want to practice their English so they just walk up to you and ask to talk to you and practice. That’s how Steven is a YouTube star – they taught him a song, not sure he can remember it though!
Steven says he’s turning into a vegetable, I’ve never seen him eat so many – including stuff that I know he won’t eat at home. However we got the “eyes closed, mmmmmm” with the banana pancake with chocolate sauce from the street vendor in the night market!! Bananas are a bit of a theme here – look at the photos!
Hoi An at night is something completely different – the selfie sticks and tourists are still there but the lanterns are lit, the old town empties and the river is transformed by the night Market and the candles. Everyone swarms here. There are so many people you cannot move and there was no chance with a tripod for any night shots that aren’t blurred, sorry. Joyous children’s faces as they light their candles and carefully put them on the river, boat men carrying their passengers fighting for space on the crowded river. The waterway becomes as congested as the roads during the day, a sea of little flickering lights and lanterns that illuminate the orange blobs of the life jacket clad tourists in the boats. It really is something very special and completely different to our first experience of Hanoi.
Hoi An at night video
So tomorrow the suit arrives at 9am and then Chinh and our driver arrive at 13:00 for our transfer to Hue. I can’t believe we’ve been here nearly a week. So pleased the fog cleared.