09 April, 2017

Farewell To Hoi An

Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

Our 3 months in Vietnam is over and we fly home today. We have really had a great time and feel blessed that we have been able to share so many special times and places with so many very special people.

 We feel we found a good balance, splitting our time between immersing into the community and doing some sightseeing. We've seen many wonderful things and know we've only scratched the surface of what Vietnam has to offer.
 Mr. Sinh, our "go to" bike and motorbike rental agent.

The next three ladies - Linh, our eyeglasses lady,

Mark is sitting down :)
 Moon, our shoe lady, and 
 Ngoc, our travel agent were extra special friends. We met and became friends with them early on, and with their excellent English, they really helped us begin to understand their culture.  Not to mention all the willing and able help they gave us when we needed translation or shopping help. 

Our vegetable lady.
 We have gone to the market almost every day to buy fresh food. A few stall holders have adopted us and we eventually became regulars, paying close to Vietnamese prices rather than “tourist” prices for our regular purchases. They don't speak English and we don't speak Vietnamese but we've managed to communicate just the same, using pointing and sign language, calculator and pictures and translations on the cell phone. We didn't want to just disappear from their lives, so we went to the market with a handwritten note in Vietnamese, thanks to Google translate.

“On Sunday we will go back to America. Thank you for your help and patience. We are sorry that our Vietnamese is so bad. We will miss you.”
Our bread lady.

Our chicken lady

We were pleasantly surprised by their reactions. They all read the note, most looked sad, one rubbed her eyes pretending to cry, and another looked like she really might cry. One showed it to her neighboring stall holders. They all smiled, too, and she gave us big hugs. We think not many tourists make the effort we did and they all really seemed to appreciate it.
Our coffee and hard goods lady

We were given a few parting gifts, too - a tiny vial of tiger balm, some extra baguettes, a few extra veggies, a piece of chicken, and, best of all, a lot of smiles. We will miss them all and think they might miss us too.
Our noodle ladies

 We also showed it to the neighbors who had invited us to the street parties. They hugged us and shook our hands and wished us luck (at least we're pretty sure that's what they wished us <grin>).

Our meat market ladies.

Awesome suits!!
It took a lot of discussion, but Julie was finally able to talk Mark out of ordering one of these.

Crack Noodles at Hi's Restaurant.

 Today we were walking along the water front after taking some pictures, passing the tour boats. Their crews always ask "You want motor boat ride?" Every one of them, every time we walk past, the whole time we've been here. Until today.

One lady asks “You want motor boat?” We reply "No boat today, thank you". Like we always do. Every … single ... day.

She then asks "You stay here?"

"Yes we've been here 3 months on Luu Quy Ky St."

She says "Ahh, now we know you live here we will stop asking".

Our jaws drop - what the $&#()><?!!??

"We're leaving today." we say with a smile and we all laugh.

A short break

Traditional music.

A lovely old house.

Looking out into old town.

The Vietnamese love caged songbirds

A very special municipal agency.

 One traditional game we first saw during the Tet celebrations involves being blindfolded and trying to walk up and break a terracotta pot with a single downward swing of a stick. We were able to give it a try at the Pottery Village Museum and Mark smashed the pot in both of his tries, winning his lovely wife a terracotta prize in honor of International Women's Day.

The 4 of us with Hi and Thao
 Restaurant Hi is right around the corner from our house. We've eaten there many, many times, and have really enjoyed it every time. Hi and Thao are warm, hard working, good natured friends, and we've really enjoyed getting to know them. Their popularity is on the rise as a result of many positive reviews – they've been full up the last two times we've had dinner there. We wish them the best of luck and hope they keep serving those delicious, inexpensive meals!
Happy hour on the front patio.

 Many people come to Hoi An for wedding photos.  This is a pretty typical tableau.  The happy couple in traditional dress and a photographer who sets up and shoots the photos.  We see similar scenes many times every day here.

On Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, Mark met this wonderful old lady while she was selling floating lanterns. He said “Happy New Year” to her in Vietnamese, she replied in kind, followed by the cutest giggle. Since then, we often see her and her husband selling boat rides when we go to the market. Every time we walk past, Mark says “Happy New Year” in Vietnamese, she replies, then giggles. Today we finally stopped and took a photo and a short video - make sure you have the sound up for this one.

We were sad to say goodbye to them all. Many thanks go out to all of our lovely friends who helped make our visit so delightful and enriching.