My love affair with Asia has certainly been thriving here in Hoi An; it’s the only place in Vietnam I’ve felt truly happy and to be honest, it’s because it seems like a different country altogether. The people here are warm, welcoming and friendly, the architecture in the Ancient Town could rival some locations in Europe, the Vietnamese food is actually really nice here (which was really surprising, EVERYTHING I’ve tasted so far has been blander than bland) and street sellers seem far less pushy and demanding than elsewhere.
Hoi An is like a combination of some of my favourite places in Europe; it has the atmosphere and energy of Ljubljana Slovenia, the run down, yet uniquely beautiful architecture of Naples Italy and has the small crevice like alley ways of Cadiz Spain. It’s actually really refreshing to really love somewhere in Vietnam, I was growing tired of disliking each place and was beginning to feel a little ungrateful.
Hoi An is a haven for tourists, I mean why wouldn’t it be, it’s gorgeous which of course naturally brings people far and wide to look at it. The only issue I have with this is, that the place feels slightly less real- most sign posts are in English, there is western food offered everywhere, street sellers are selling donuts rather than local desserts and there are more white people here than I’ve seen anywhere in Asia.
I certainly will not be getting anything made to measure here by the endless supply of tailors- I’ve always been obsessed with fashion and clothing, meaning I can spot a shoddy seamstress, a dodgy hemline or a terrible pattern match anywhere- which unfortunately in Hoi An is literally everywhere. Each tailor shop and market stall sell the exact same thing anyway, there’s nothing to differentiate them from one another and that’s exactly how Hoi An is- every street corner has a lady in a rice hat selling bananas, a man trying to flog you a boat ticket, a tacky shop with novelty Tshirts and loud print shirts and a store front adorned in chinese lanterns.
I don’t mean to sound negative, Hoi An really is a lovely place if you ignore it’s touristic downsides- besides the city would never be able to thrive without it. I’ve spent the last few sleepy, drizzly days sampling coffee and juice in the endless coffee shops, gorging on the best vegan food I’ve tasted (more on that in another post) and getting lost wandering the maze of yellow buildings.
Hoi An, it’s been a delight to spend time with you- I would recommend anybody wanting to escape the urban madness of Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi to visit for a while, it’s a place you can get lost in your own thoughts and can walk down the street without hearing any irritating beeping or scooter noise at all (the ancient town is for walking and cyclists only- thank the lord!)
*Boring info alert*-You may have heard that you must buy an entrance ticket for Hoi An’s ancient city, well… according to everyone you speak to, yes you technically do have to pay 120,000 dong (£4.20- crazy expensive I know) every 24 hours to enter. BUT I’ve never actually seen anybody buy a ticket from the booths and I certainly never parted with money for one. The only place I’ve seen ticket inspectors is on the Japanese bridge- which you can go around anyway,so save yourself some cash and take the risk of never getting a ticket, it’s an absolute rip off.