There’s too much. There’s just too much. We’ve been here in Hoi An, an old city in Central Viet Nam, for 2 days and my mind just teems with images, smells and sounds. How can I write, though, when there are white rose wontons wrapped in delicate rice paper to be eaten? When there are tropical fruits to be savored? When there are laps to swim in the pool? When there are divine art galleries to explore?
I included Hoi An on our itinerary based on the recommendation of Pepper and I must tell you, my friend, that your beloved city does not disappoint.
I rise at 8 and head down to breakfast. We are staying at a 5-story hotel with slanted, wooden rooms and large, white baths. There is a pool. There is a free breakfast. There are free bicycles. For breakfast, I ate beef pho yesterday and a red pepper omelette today. It is hot, so very hot, that I can barely focus on the gorgeous architecture and sumptuous crafts for the sweat streaming down my face, fogging up my sunglasses. After a lunch of white roses or noodles, I swim laps in the small, lagoon-like pool for the first time in years. There are brightly colored silk lanterns strung throughout the streets, at the crossroads, and the river shimmers with gleaming metallic statues of fish, dragons and flowers in a shimmering palette of yellow, reds, blues, greens and pinks. It is impossible to get a landscape shot without a fat tourist’s head peeking into the frame. Indeed, there are so many of us here that I feel like I’m in Epcot and the locals are actors hired to add charm to our dining experience.
The children shout, “Hello!” The shopkeepers hoot, “Buy something!” Each xe om driver offers a ride. Custom-made clothing tailor shops seem to tumble over each other, all with glorious dresses, suits and Chinese-style tops spilling out on mannequins. There are art galleries here with framed images “painted” with dyed leaves or silken threads. Hoi An is not the place to come if you are in between residences, seeking to rid yourself of earthly trappings in preparation for The Next Big Thing. I want it all: wooden bowls painted in metallic turquoises, fuchsias and leaf greens; shimmering silk scarves; delicate pottery; custom-made dresses. How many souvenirs can a girl bring home in a tiny suitcase? I aim to find out.
Next door to our hotel, there is a wedding reception blaring rave music. Xe om horns flare every couple of seconds. Sean and I have come from a stroll on a nearby private beach; filthy from our bike ride through lush green countryside scattered with chickens and cows. It is time to hose myself off and head to Le Loi street for the final fitting of my latest custom-made creation.