Cars and motorbikes zoomed by me as I tried to navigate my way through a new town in the late afternoon. I left the street of my guesthouse and wandered along the footpath of a busier street, suddenly surrounded by tailor shops with the odd stall selling random items on the footpath. After hastily crossing two more busy streets, I suddenly found myself in a pedestrian and cycle only area, and I knew that I was in the right place.
Instantly, just as the sun was going down and night time began closing in, colourful lanterns began lighting up along the street, and after passing through a narrow alleyway, I found myself exactly where I wanted to be. I was in the old town of Hoi An in Vietnam, where beautifully preserved 18th and 19th century old crumbling buildings line little narrow streets, and hundreds of silk lanterns light the way.
Only the occasional pedestrian or cyclist passed by me as I wandered down the street, marvelling at the beauty of the scene before me. I had no idea where I was going, and I didn’t care. This is a place to just let your feet take you.
Eventually, I found myself at the river front, where boats float lazily in the calm water and lantern lit restaurants line the street along the river. There couldn’t be a more romantic setting.
Further along the river, a beautifully lit up bridge crosses to an island on the other side, where more restaurants line the opposite bank and a night market was already in full swing selling all kinds of touristy knickknacks, and of course, the famous lanterns.
Wandering back across the bridge, my stomach was rumbling and those riverfront restaurants were calling to me, but not before visiting the famous 16th century Japanese Bridge, all lit up against the night sky.
I had dreamed about visiting Hoi An when I travelled to Vietnam, and I could instantly tell that it was everything that I had hoped it would be. I knew right then that I would be staying here longer than I had planned. I couldn’t wait to get up and explore more of this amazing place the following day.