Hoi An is a gorgeous town with loads to offer, from the psychical to the spiritual, I found.
First though, I’ll tell you some of the tops things to do in Hoi An:
- Hire a bike and explore the town that way
- Hit up the markets, you never know what you’ll find
- Take a traditional Vietnamese cooking class – so much fun!
- Check out the river by night, and take in all the colourful lanterns that surround it
- Get a tailored suit, dress, shoes, you name it really, made up at one of the MANY tailoring places you’ll find in Hoi An
But now that’s out of the way, I’ll let you in on something.
I would say one of the most important things that I did in Hoi An was learn.
It was actually a lesson I learnt all across Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a whole on my travels, but in Hoi An I had a few good examples of “the lesson”.
I learnt how hospitable and friendly the people of Vietnam, and many other places in Southeast Asia, are.
It may come off strange, and Westerners may be inclined to think at first that local people who engage with them are being “creepy” or trying to sell them something (ok, sometimes they are!).
I was definitely one of these people – but in general I tend not to trust easily, and often think people are being “creepy” when they’re simply just trying to be friendly – but that’s because of events in my life, and I’m learning to get around that.
Actually, Southeast Asia helped me a lot with that.
If someone smiles at you, it doesn’t hurt to smile back.
If someone says “hi, how are you?”, what are you losing by saying hi back? You may even get a great conversation, story, or a new friend out of it!
Open up, be wary and alert, but don’t close yourself off to people – most people are actually really awesome.
In Hoi An, at a big feast put on by a family-run business in a little alleyway, we came across some of the most lovely people ever.
One of the waitresses actually fed one of our group by hand (yes, really, watch the video above), just to be hospitable (and funny!).
Another waitress helped one of our group with an injury, which she’d acquired during the day, with a traditional medicinal cure.
Another waitress (or family member, I’m not sure which by this point) became best friends with another girl in our group, and they spent the entire night bonding, despite language differences.
It was such a lovely experience, and really showed me how wonderful people are, if only you give them the chance to be.
It’s that great old notion of saying ‘Yes’ instead of ‘No’ (given limitations, of course)
That’s a huge part of travel – opening yourself up to new experiences and lessons.
And this was one I got out of it – trust people more, they usually aren’t out to get you.