A woman took this photo four times.
Rose asked someone passing by, and the woman seized the chance like a long lost love. Maybe a failed photographer in her past or an aspiring one in her present, she snapped a shot once (the one above), said “Hang on. Let me get some more”. Then took another one: in which my smile went from “Cheese” to “Uhh”, and Matt’s expression seems to say: “What is she doing?”.
Then a third shot: Rose’s smile in that one looks pained, her teeth appearing more like knives waiting to hit a target. And finally, the fourth shot- where Juliana looks dazed, unsure if the woman was going to give back our camera.
It also happens to be one of the few shots we’ve got together. Maybe the woman sensed this and wanted to rattle off one for each of us?
In any case, it kicked off our visit to Hoi An – a UNESCO world heritage site (Remember them?) – so enshrined for its ancient town that is still well preserved, showcasing its past as a major 18th Century trading post for China and Japan. Its history in trading continues, but rather than dealing in goods for residents, its dealing in us – tourists – which means a lot of this:
Plus plenty of touts (this is a title we’ve come to learn traveling in Southeast Asia. I didn’t get it at first, because, well I like to confuse things – but it means someone “touting” something. Remarkable how that came together, no?). At every restaurant we passed along the canal in the ancient town, someone was waving a menu while running off a version of: “Hey. Where you from? Come in boss. Cheap beer. Good food. We give you good price”.
There was a crucial moment in our stroll one evening when Rose approached a tout, giving the menu a closer look, then decided to keep walking. But before making it four steps, the tout shouted after her:
“COOOOMMME ON LAAAAAAAAAAAAADYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!”
This quickly became the refrain between us for the rest of the trip, invoked by anyone when any other member of Team Canada (male too) was either slow on the uptake or didn’t understand something.
I heard it a fair bit.
The other side of things that Hoi An is known for is tailoring. You can get a suit made for some insanely ridiculous price – (I wasn’t looking, although a tux on a beach or wearing it to wander through temples has its own perverse appeal). One group of guys staying at our hotel were going on and on about their appointment with their tailor, and when they had to pick up their several suits – all of them saying this wearing no shirts, only shorts and flipflops. It looked like a cry for help.
After wandering through the many stalls, and things for sale along the waterfront, including women selling lanterns to tourists to drop in the water (and left as garbage on the shorebank)
plus dipping our heads, scrunching down, and dodging other tourists taking photos of everything around, including one guy who, at the entrance of THE tourist attraction in Hoi An (a Japanese covered bridge), where piles of tourists walk through constantly, he gestures to Juliana, with a look of exasperation: “EXCUSE ME”, while waving her away with his hand in the air, as if bothered by a mosquito, which seemed as useful as motioning cars to get out of the way of the Arc de Triomphe – All in all, I found Hoi An, umm, ha du you zzay in Franch… behn un peu trop “tout-y” la.
However, we at least, left with our two souvenirs: “COME ON LADY!” and “EXCUSE ME!”, which we packed with us for our one-day whirlwind in Hue the Vietnamese capital until 1945, which is yet another….have you guessed? Uh-huh. You got it. Straight outta history to your modern day tourist eyes….. a UNESCO world heritage site!
This one designated, in particular for its Citadel where the former Vietnamese Emperor also ruled:
Since we only had one day, we made the Citadel our single site to explore. It was an interesting spot, with massive ponds in front:
Then inside the walls, two long hallways, one on either side of the garden:
And, at this point, I thought. “Ya know. A gold dragon would really button up the place”. Annnnd behold…
Amazing. I know. Fanks ever so much.
And, after the piece de resistance, some of us were too blown away to move:
But rather than sleep on a bench for the night, we met up for dinner with our two UK travellers from Halong Bay, Jon and Sara from http://alongwayfordumplings.travellerspoint.com fame who also happened to be in town, which you’ll have to take my word on, because I haven’t got photo proof.
But, I do have proof of what we did the next morning:
Which landed (thankfully), in Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City aka HCMC aka our espresso connoisseur finds her Stanley cup aka museum stops aka even more traffic stops AKA our last stop in Vietnam.