Hoi An is a dichotomy. A city with a small town feel and old world charm. Yet drowning in tourists. Too many for my liking. I am one of those tourists no doubt – part of the problem for sure – and therein lies the conundrum. Or perhaps the problem is accessibility. Flights are cheap, and more importantly data for phones is really cheap … which means people wondering the streets staring at their screens looking for the latest 5 star rating restaurant on Trip Advisor, best tailor, cheapest taxi, you name it. And while information is power it also dictates that which we say, do, and likely think (though that is probably something for another post).
So our goal on this trip was to steer clear of our phones and just explore aimlessly. We got on bikes, headed North, and meandered towards the beach through rice paddies, ending up meeting a wonderful Vietnamese family for lunch by the river who were intrigued by us being teachers and wanting to help their young son in his mathematical reasoning (he was 8 months old ;).
Another day we decided to head South on scooters towards Tam Ky using all the back roads we could find. We wound through fields, ducked in and out of water buffalo being led to pasture, skirted around drying peanut roots, and were able to appreciate Vietnamese life outside the hustle and bustle of Hoi An. Then we took a wrong turn and wound up on a secluded beach lined with fishing vessels waiting to head out to sea. As an added bonus it also had a stall selling food (and cold beverages).
So those serendipitous moments of are there and can be found, we just have to be willing to look for them … whether that be in Hoi An or anywhere else for that matter.