Discovering Hoi An beauty in night – part 1

Every month on the 14 th day of the lunar calendar, Hoi An lets the moon take centre stage- the UNESCO protected old town switches off all superfluous lighting and motorcycles are verboten on the centuries old streets .

 Discovering Hoi An beauty in night - part 1

Every month on the 14 th day of the lunar calendar, Hoi An lets the moon take centre stage- the UNESCO protected old town switches off all superfluous lighting and motorcycles are verboten on the centuries old streets. Candles are lit and lanterns sway in soft breeze that blows up the Thu Bon river, which once allowed merchants and traders from China, Japan and Europe to sail into Hoi An – 400 years ago this was a thriving international hub hence the sublime architecture, which has thankfully been preserved and helping the town to once again flourish this time as one of Asia’s most magical tourist destinations.

Yes, every second house seems to be a shop, a restaurant or a tailor but the authorities have laid down strict regulations to ensure the charm of the architectural heritage is not compromised. Each houses’ façade retains an original appearance. The dimming of the lights and lighting of lanterns only adds to the town’s beguiling character.

This is why I always prefer Hoi An after the sun goes down. Locals and foreign tourists who have been hiding indoors or flopping round Cua Dai – the nearest beach to town – suddenly emerge in droves as a coolness descends on the town. No matter how many times I visit Hoi An, I always enjoy ambling around nibbling on the many tasty morsels on offer in the local eateries. With no traffic to irritate your senses, it’s a pleasure to sit out on the street down by the river.

You’ll know the festival is about to start when local boys emerge to perform a dragon dance. The cavorting dragon jumps to restaurants and shops in the hope of earning a small gratuity from the proprietor.

As the streets start to get crowded in anticipation of more performances, I slip up to the second floor of a restaurant overlooking the river and order a bowl or cao lau, a delicious dry noodle dish made with silvers of pork, bank da (rice crackers), a handful of local herbs and a blob of chili paste. I also order some white rose dumplings – tasty pork-filled morsels. Both of these dishes are local specialties and should be on everyone’s list of “things to devour in Hoi An” along with com ga, a simple but scrumptious take on chicken on rice, and the crunchy banh my pate sandwiches.

Down below by the river I can see women making and selling lotus-shaped garlands which come with a tiny candle. Tourists can row out in a boat and release the flowers onto the river while praying for happiness, luckiness and love. It’s a beautiful sight to see the flickering flight float off downstream.

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