From the moment we “jumped into the deep end” in Saigon, we have been blown away at the controlled chaos of transportation in Vietnam. Motorbikes dominate the roads with cars and trucks blowing through traffic like whales through a swarm of tuna. The sheer volume of people has probably been one of the more surprising parts of our visit to Vietnam. When we reached Hoi An we wanted to have a couple extra days, as I would be celebrating my 33rd birthday, and we wanted to be posted up somewhere relaxing for the day. Hoi An was truly the right place to escape some of this volume of humanity.
One of my fondest memories from my time in college in Bellingham is riding my bicycle through town to work, school, and to friend’s houses. Riding bikes with friends was always so fun, and when we found out our Airbnb had free bicycles with the rental, we were over the moon. From end to end you can ride your bike from one end of the city, out to the beach, and back in roughly an hour. Great exercise, and a great way to see some of the fantastic countryside. Rice paddies, local water buffalo, and beautiful beaches. Although there was some traffic, and certain streets seemed to overflow with traffic, the bike ride brought back those feelings of joy. Almost as if the experience tapped a long-traveled section of brain matter that lit up like the lanterns of Hoi An as you weaved through the city streets.
With a helpful tip from a fellow traveler, we also discovered the serendipity of our trip was continuing. We had arrived on the night of the full moon festival lantern festival in Hoi An where the city explodes with life, light, and thoughts of happiness. This was one of the times Hoi An exploded with people exploring the night market, setting lanterns along the river, and celebrating the full moon. Truly, that evening the moon was enormous, wish we had a picture to capture it, but it was too brilliant to capture with our photo equipment (iPhone/Go Pro). However, we were able to capture some of the simple magic of the “city of lanterns”, Hoi An.
Again, overwhelmed by the humanity, we sat down at a restaurant on the street and began to people watch. A small circle of young teenagers singing folk songs in a circle and laughing. Boat salesman lining the riverside trying to get anyone and everyone to go on a ride on their boats illuminated in electric light. A crowd of people surrounding some version of a piñata that involved hanging coconuts, a club, and samurai masks which blinded the person attempting to club the coconut. Every time someone took 5 steps forward blindfolded and made a connection the crowd roared. We soaked it all in, along with a couple of Bia Saigon. What a city. As we walked home under the brilliant moonlight laughing and recalling the day we reveled in another weird, yet captivating night in another new town.