The full moon festival at Hoi An is quite the experience. At first as I wandered through the throngs of people on previously tranquil streets, I wondered if it would have been best to avoid the festival all together. The lanterns on the river were nice and all but the influx of tourists, and vendors thrusting lit lamps in your face, was a bit overwhelming at first. The brightness of the lamps versus the darkness of the city was even pretty disorientating as my eyes struggled to adjust.
During the festival, all electric lights in the old town centre are turned off and the city is lit by nothing other than paper lamps. After the initial shock it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things. I even managed to find my travel buddy who I thought I’d lost to the darkness at one point. Wandering through the town I discovered it was about a lot more than just seeing the town lit as if in olden times. There were traditional shows going on (including some strange singing I couldn’t quite get into) and people dressed in traditional clothes, that just seemed to be enjoying the night. Each street you turned down seemed to hold a new surprise. I especially enjoyed watching these old guys playing a game I’d never seen before.
A quick Wikipedia search has let me know that it’s a chess like game called Xiangqi. It includes a piece called a canon that has to jump pieces to take them, generals aren’t allowed to face each other, and areas of the board are denoted as the palace and the river, restricting the movement of some pieces and enhancing the movement of other. I think I may need to get a set and give this a try.