City of Ten Thousand Lanterns…

When a wish is sent to the heavens by a candle simply floating away…

Driving to Hoi An from Hue is a short drive but the views along the way couldn’t be more different. We were taken down to this little spit of water where a white sand beach shoots straight out into the water for about 50 feet. From the point you can get the most beautiful 180 degree shot of the mountains surrounding the bay and the water. We immediately started to climb a mountain. At the peak of this mountain is a piece of history…an old outpost for the Vietnamese army during “The War”. You can see the advantage they had over controlling the one land road, making it a perfect vantage point. As the fog rolled up over the mountain, it was almost like looking into days past. Sitting in the gun turret, watching the fog roll up the mountain from the sea waiting for enemy troops to file down the road.

Hoi An is a tiny town just down the coast from the growing metropolis of  Da Nang. As you drive through the swampy rice fields you think that you are headed the wrong direction until small huts indicate that you are at least heading towards civilization.

Hoi An is a town of tradition – feeling like a world away from the 21st century this ancient town is known for it’s slower pace of life and the abounds of history that you can find down every street.

So much to do and what seems like so little time! We left the hotel and started to head towards “Old Town” – First on the list was the Japanese covered bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1590 and is elaborately carved both inside and outside. From the outside the carvings look simple – traditional Japanese art but inside the carvings give the bridge an air of mystical beauty.

I loved walking through Old Town. The sights and sounds of these streets, though narrow, is completely different from all of the other cities we have visited on this trip. Little boutique shops selling specialty items that this region are known for, silks, tailored suits, coffee and beautiful lanterns.

Walking down more residential I couldn’t help but smile at the life happening in doorways and back steps. Little children playing with toys, families eating dinner in the dark with only the light of the tv to illuminate large bowls. Old grandmothers sitting on swings with their grandchildren teaching them traditional methods of cooking. In communities like this there is no privacy – “it takes a village to raise a child” these streets all have grandmothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, brothers and sisters who are all being raised together.

The setting of the sun is my favorite time of day in Vietnam, because that is when these cities come alive – here especially! Hoi An at night turns into an Asian Venice, boats floating down the channel. Little old grandmothers, most of whom are missing their teeth, were selling floating candles for those who purchase will bring luck as they make a wish.

Multi colored lanterns float down the river like fairies dancing across the surface. Even with thousands of people bustling around us the world seems quite for just a moment. 

Even with a good photo the essence of that night couldn’t be captured…it was too magical! I will be sad to leave this city of ten thousand lanterns tomorrow but the show must go on!

Traveling Photographer Out!

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