Lovely Hoi An, located on the South China Sea halfway between Ho Ch Minh City and Hanoi is truly the jewel of Vietnam. Somehow spared from ravages of both recent and ancient wars, Hoi An’s charming architecture sings a beautiful song of ancient Chinese and Japanese spice and silk trade routes and past shipping port importance.
But today the Unesco World Heritage site thrives on tourism. A testament to a shrinking world and a changing economy.
Most visitors only spend two days. Our laid back itinerary allowed us nine days – time enough to feel ensconced. To see the light.
That light meaning lanterns. Lanterns have become Hoi An’s signature. Depending on who you talk to, the story of the lanterns is either from ancient Chinese merchants and seafarers, whose use of the lanterns guided their journey, while others will tell you the lanterns are a more recent adaptation, based on the tourists and their love of the bright colorful globes – visitors all too willing to pay to have this souvenir accompany them back home.
I want to believe the first, more romantic version, but my long career in marketing tugs at my conscience to accept the second. Perhaps it is a bit of both. But no matter which, our many evenings in the magically lantern lit historic Vietnamese village is something I will always remember.
Grateful for the lanterns, symbolic of our continued journey.
Light the Way.