day one hundred and thirty-one: february 7, 2016: arrival in hoi an
We arrived late in the evening due to a delayed flight causing us to miss the beginning celebrations for Tết, which included some singing and dancing. Nonetheless, we still had plenty of time before the big fireworks show at midnight. Our hotel was situated close to the old ancient part of the city so we took to the streets immediately after checking in to our room. We were in search of food. We ended up stopping for some street food by the river. Not our greatest meal, but it did the trick. The streets of the old part of the city are closed to cars, but motor bikes are still ever present. Anywhere a motor bike can fit, someone will inevitably be riding one there. The old city still had a very old feel to it, with its cobblestone streets and almost all of the buildings being older and no hotels in the area. It was great.
As we got to the river, we noticed many vendors including these three young girls below selling floating lanterns to put afloat in the river. Jonathan snapped some photos of them and they tried to sell us some lanterns. We said no thanks and told them maybe later.
The entire river front area was decorated with lanterns. Every building, across the bridges and walkways and even larger lanterns in the water.
The famous Japanese Covered Bridge was also lit up with changing colors, which made for nice reflections in the water.
After making our way around the river area, we returned, as promised, and bought a lantern from one of the young girls. Unlike our float experience in Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong, i.e. Kristina, Carina and I had to basically lay face down on a bamboo dock and drop it into the water, then our floats got stuck in debris and didn't really make it down....this was waay better. The young girl had almost like a large ladle that I put the float in and then slowly lowered it into the water. So much better! She then stayed with me until my float cleared the nearby boats and made its way down the river. :)
As midnight approached, we found a nice spot on the bridge and setup the camera to take some photos. The fireworks were incredible, maybe even better than Disneyland. (Sorry, Disneyland lovers...I know there are a few of you out there, Sharon, Megan, and Miche!)
On our way home there were people along the street outside their homes and shops burning fake money as offerings for the new year.
day one hundred and thirty-two: february 8, 2016:
With a full day ahead of us to explore the ancient city we slept in a little bit knowing we didn't have much area to cover and that some shops might be closed due to the Tết holiday. We chose to walk down some narrow alleys by people's homes rather than the main streets.
As soon as we came out onto one of the main streets, these beautiful smiling faces greeted us and smiled as we snapped a quick photo. And yes, we pretty much fell victim to the coconut trick again and Jonathan felt bad and bought some bananas from one of the ladies in exchange for some photos.
As we walked around town we visited some of the family gathering halls where locals were lighting incense in celebration of the new year.
We stopped at a coffee shop and enjoyed our seats overlooking the busy street below.
After our coffee and hot chocolate, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap before heading back out in the evening.
I managed to find some raving reviews of the restaurant Morning Glory so we decided to check it out. When we arrived, the group before us was turned away because they said they were fully booked for the night. However, when we asked for a table for two, we were seated at the table right in the front within 5 minutes. Lucky, I guess? The food was awesome and probably the best meal we've had thus far in Vietnam!
After dinner we took our time and strolled around the river area and the surrounding streets.
Near the sculpture garden on one side of the river they had some games, one of which participants would put on a mask and approach a small clay pot and swing a stick to try to break the pot. We must have watched people try 20 times before this young boy won.
On our way home we cruised thru some narrow dark alleys, which were much creepier at night.
Tomorrow morning we wake up early to head to Hanoi, where we'll spend less than 24 hours before heading further north to Sapa and beyond for 8 days.