I posted a photo of this girl, selling lanterns during Hoi An’s Full Moon Festival, before on this website. This is another photo, including her father who is mostly obscured by darkness.
Hoi An, in Vietnam, is known for its tailors. Everywhere you look there are shops offering custom made suits. I decided I wanted to get a couple and proceeded to struggle to pick a place. Eventually I gave up and walked into the one I was closest to. Before I knew it I was measured up and had picked out a blue pinstripe material and a light grey. I was only in town for two more days so they’d have to work fast.
I went back for a fitting the next morning and once I was marked up for further adjustments I went to the beach. I returned the next night for the final fitting. There were still a couple of issues so the girl in the store grabbed me by the hand and guided me to a shop full of sewing machines.
There, I met the tailor who quickly marked the suit up in chalk and set to work. While I waited for him to finish I asked one of his assistants if I could take a picture of him working. He agreed and here’s the result.
The morning after the full moon festival things had quietened down quite a lot in Hoi An. We wandered from the Japanese bridge to the market where we had a coffee while a shop owner showed us absolutely everything she had for sale. She must have gone through 20 items ranging from t-shirts to spices before she pulled out a small jar of tiger balm and had hit the nail o the head. I’d pulled a muscle in my back the day before so was quick to make a purchase.
On our wander back I saw this woman leaving the market, with boats moored behind her at the end of the street, and snapped a quick picture with a long lens. The women in Vietnam keep themselves out of the sun as much as possible to avoid a tan. That’s why you’ll often see them covered up with long sleeves and gloves, despite the heat.
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.
So, I’m back from my trip to Marrakech, London and Amsterdam. I went on an awesome food tour in Marrakech I’m looking forward to telling you about. For now though, we’ve got another picture from Vietnam. This is the view from inside the Japanese covered bridge in Hoi An. I waited ages to catch a bike passing across the far end.
A wander through the market always yields interesting sights, such as this lady selling a huge pile of yellow flowers.
On this day we went in search of what our guide book described as a local delicacy, tiny preserved tangerines. We were supposed to find them in amongst all the woven baskets inside the market building. We wandered through without having much luck. We were being mobbed by locals asking what we were looking for, making it difficult to scan the stalls for the little delights. Eventually, Shannon decided to try to explain what we were after. She was less than successful in this endeavor, but it took the attention off me and I was able to scan a stall carefully. Then, I saw a plastic jar, tucked in amongst everything else, full of gooey little orange spheres. I knew I had the right thing when I noticed the picture of tangerines on the label.
The lady gestured that I should open the jar. Upon doing that, I was hit by a strong citrus smell. They smelled delicious and I was instructed to taste one. At this point, things took a turn for the worse. They were horrible, bitter, chewy things smothered in a sickeningly sweet gloop. After the ladies hospitality we wanted to buy something, but we did not want a jar of those tangerines! Eventually, we remembered some delicious coconut cracker things we’d wanted to buy. The lady didn’t have any but quickly ran off somewhere, returning with a whole case. They became our long distance bus journey snack of choice.
I’ve never been good at photographing people in my travels so made a conscious effort to do this more in Vietnam. When I saw this girl in Hoi An I had to push the limits of my camera to get this picture.
She’s selling lanterns for people to float down the river during Hoi An’s full moon festival. We didn’t have a set plan for most of our journey around Vietnam, but made sure we were going to be in Hoi An for the festival. Funnily, I think I preferred the place when the festival wasn’t on but it’s definitely something worth seeing. They turn off all of the electric lights in the city so the only light available is from lanterns strung up around the streets. There are loads of people around, tourists mixing in with the various local vendors. There’s so much going on that as you approach the water it’s a bit disorienting at first. Lanterns are thrust in front of you in the hope you’ll buy and your eyes struggle to switch between the intensely bright flames and the dark city streets. Eventually though, you make your way to the river where everything calms down and you can watch the lanterns, released from the bridge, slowly drift away.