Hoi An is a coastal city with a long history of trade. The Kingdom of Champa, the Trinh and Nguyen dynasties, the Japanese and Chinese immigrant merchants, and the French and Portugues colonizers all played a major roll in shaping many aspects of its culture. In fact, Old Town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was evening when we checked into our hotel so we headed to Old Town. Although all the architecture was newer, it felt like Fenghuang China. Tourists were everywhere, knickknacks and handicrafts were on sale. Hawkers aggressively tried to steer us to their eatery, shop, stall, or pushcart.
Lanterns were everywhere. They adorned shops, lined the many bridge ways, hung in the trees and the linked shops on opposite sides of the street. They were even on boats as they glided up and down the river.
It was more than bingo. It was more than singing. It was more than poetry and story telling. It was a great time. Eight elevated huts were filled with people. People overflowed to stools and rattan mats all directed towards a singing duo. The singers were accompanied by a Đàn Bầu (Vietnamese Violin) and a Trống (Drum). Each player bought a paddle with three symbols with Vietnamese writing above them for 20K Dong. As the singers sang, one would draw a stick from a vat and then sing about it, a person from the troupe would then walk around the crowd holding the image and word they were singing about, then hang it on a wire behind the singers. Other members of the troupe would walk around distributing flags to people who had the symbol on their paddle. The game ended when someone got all three matches and they win a prize. Kids and adults played. The music was strangely addictive and everyone had a great time, me included. (About Bai Choi)
The food in this region was especially tasty. Desert stands were plentiful. Yogurt was poured into tubes and flashed frozen on the spot for yogurt pops. Fresh ice cream batter was poured on a freezing block, spread thin, then scrapped into a cylinder for interesting looking ice cream.
Some of the push carts sold whole octopuses and frogs, something we weren’t used to seeing.
There were many people selling mango cakes. Fun fact: They are really peanut butter wrapped mochi. The only thing mango about them is their oblong shape. Was it really a swindle? Sharleen thinks so.