Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hoi An Nights

As I said, Hoi An is pretty quiet during the day because it's so hot.  It really comes to life at night, though, when things have cooled down a bit.


It's really beautiful, as the whole town is lit by silk lanterns... quite atmospheric.  Plus,  there are all sorts of traditional activities and cultural performances at night, many of which I was able to capture.

First, we stumbled upon this "Folk Game of Breaking Pot," which had gathered a large audience and appeared to be the Vietnamese version of a pinata (just looked it up- it's called đập nêu and is the Vietnamese pinata).. blindfolded, each contestant has to take 3 or 4 steps toward a hanging terra cotta pot and take a whack at it with a stick in an attempt to break it.  We saw many guys try, but none succeed.  It's not clear what you win if you break the pot...  I didn't see any giant stuffed teddy bears or goldfish in a bag.

Meanwhile, down by the river (not in a van), masses of older women and young kids are pimping candles in waxed paper lanterns that you can light and lower into the river (for a fee) via a long metal pole.  These salespeople were persistent and loud: "YOU!  Light candle!!!"

The candles look really pretty floating down the river.  Also, for those worried about litter, we were assured that the kids run down river, out of site, and retrieve the paper lanterns for reuse.

As I said, silk lanterns are everywhere in Hoi An.  Really pretty and colorful:

I like these shots of the river as dusk, along with the lady selling fruit at the bottom of the photo:

One of our favorite traditional activities to watch was bai choi, which we surmised was the Vietnamese equivalent of BINGO, with the added benefit of music and singing.  The 2 announcers would sing, pick something out of a hat, and then a guy would walk around displaying the placard representing the word pulled from the hat while the singers incorporated it into the song.

Turns out we were pretty accurate with our musical BINGO guess. Video of the crazily addictive BINGO song below... Tim and I found ourselves humming it for days afterwards:

Hoi An's famous Japanese covered bridge, built in the 1590's to connect the Japanese and Chinese quarters:

We stumbled upon these local kids practicing their breakdancing and b-boy moves down by the river:

More river scenes, including the riverside dining (on tiny stools, bien sur):

Tim surrounded by tiny stools, me flanking the river:

I love how the ladies behind Tim are perched on the tiny stools.  And they're wearing what seems to be the uniform for Vietnamese women of a certain age- silk-ish pajamas:

One of the evenings we spent in Hoi An, we noticed that shops, restaurants and houses were all setting out special, elaborate offerings... large plates of fruit, incense, what seemed like an entire meal, a couple thousand dong, candles, etc.  Still not sure what made that particular Monday night special, but if anyone else has any insight, please let me know!

Also, we saw this dude dragging a large, old-school scale around town (we saw this in Da Nang, too) for weighing people.  Par-tay.

Aaaand, finally, we caught some singing and dancing performances one night, which was nice.  This traditional fan dance was particularly pretty: 

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