Every fourteenth day of the lunar calendar, Hoi An puts the complications of modern life to rest in favor of a romantic, nostalgic celebration of a quieter era. Once a month, instead of playing host to noisy scooters, the old quarter is reserved for pedestrians. And, rather than being lit by bright street lamps, the roads are bathed in the soft glow of jewel-tone lanterns of all shapes and sizes.
The Thu Bon river, which runs right through the middle of town, shimmers in greens and reds and golds as a hundred flower-shaped lanterns float peacefully upon it. Old women squat by the bridge, peddling candles and all manner of translucent containers to put them in. The scent of wax and incense fills the air.
Music and laughter ring through the dimly lit alleys, and on every street-corner, people are engaged in good old-fashioned fun, the kind of entertainment that doesn't involve speakers or screens or instant messaging. Enchanted, Tyler and I run around the cobble stone alleys, trying to capture the mood of it all with our camera and sound recorder.
On one street, a duet performs by lantern light…
While down the road, old men sit and ponder their XiangQi strategies by candlelight…
Elsewhere in the city, paper is set alight in brass bowls on the street, the cheerful orange blazes adding even more ambiance to the evening. Perhaps the fires are lit to honor one's ancestors?
Townspeople sit indoors for a poetry reading, while a couple of men listen and play XiangQi at the same time. I wish I spoke Vietnamese so I could understand the poems too!
A Vietnamese Buena Visa Social Club of elderly musicians playing in a bright room, lit up against the darkness.
We've been to many festivals on this journey, each with its own merits and delights, but the monthly celebration in Hội An is surely the most bewitching, perhaps because of the simplicity and elegance of it all. What good fortune that we have passed this way at the right time to see it!
These nights are a welcome reminder of life's unexpected beauty.Hội An World Heritages