If we had to change anything about coming to Vietnam it would have been not to come a Tet. This is the time of the Vietnamese and Chinese New Year and is the most important celebration in Vietnamese currently culture. It’s longer name version means the ‘Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’. It usually falls in January or February in the Gregorian calendar. It is the first day of the Lunar new year. 2019 was to be the year of the pig. The river was a-wash with many little lantern-lit boats taking tourists on excursions. On dry land many restaurant hustlers would try to beckon us their way. We gave most of our custom to a small cafe with one long communal table. This made for some interesting and informative conversations with fellow eaters. The place was found using Tripadvisor - a very useful resource.
On arriving in Hoi an the first thing to deal with was purchasing paint thinners. Usually we use white spirit or mineral spirits but to date I haven’t been able to figure out how to ask for it. I have been offered petrol and in Georgetown before getting something vaguely suitable. Also got something which might have powered a Saturn 5 rocket but as far as thinning paint it dried to fast. In all of the things i have bought I still have no idea what it is. But seems to work and leaves no trace of a smell. This is something which has to be accomplished after each plane journey as needless to say air travel and inflammable liquids don’t go together.
Hoi An was exceptionally crowded with many tour busses. It was quite difficult to get around in the evenings. We stayed in a Homestay on the river and quite close to the centre.
My painting excursions in the town were qiite hectic with many on lookers intent on getting as close as possible. The usual unwanted selfies were a problem and a distraction and with all the noise it sometimes was hard to think and plan a painting. I attempted a number in the busy part and one down an alley way where there weren’t so many tourists.
I have included one of the view behind me on one of these paintings. Against my instinct I bought a selfie stick as now I have found a use for one.
On another day I took myself off into the area of the rice paddy fields and did one out there.
What I did notice not only around Hoi an was the amount of rubbish and the throw it away culture. This part of the blog is being written sometime after we were in Hoi an so there has been plenty of time to see the amount of rubbish strewn around. Children seem to just eat a snack and leave the papers and recycling seems to be in short supply!
I painted this one of the rice paddy fields in a lovely location just off a narrow lane. I was under a tree to get some shade so it was a very pleasant place to be working.
I cant be sure but there doesn’t seem to be a tourist tax in Vietnam and perhaps much added revenue could be got in this way to help deal with rubbish.
Rant over about rubbish, for the moment.
The day after painting the rice paddy fields I again went in search for a subject and found an area of quiet lanes along the river. One small passage took me on a path less then a metre wide and ended up in a man’s front yard. He seemed a little surprised and perhaps more when I stopped and started to bring out my easel and things. In a way that only English speaking people can I used actions to describe what I was intending to do.
On this grey day there was a small jetty and a basket boat with a couple of other boats thrown in for good measure. These basket boats seem quite like an Irish curragh and made of basket weave (or at least originally). They are used for tourist purposes. Later the man would come over to check progress. Then around lunch time he came and gave me a large bunch of bananas. When finished I thought i would go over and say goodbye but he was fast asleep in his hammock. At that point I saw his heavy looking prosthetic leg lying beside him on the ground.
I tried one of ferry ladies crossing the river. These ladies offer what seeems a valuable service across the river saving just a few hundred metres but useful when the passengers have luggage and can’t so easily access the other side by car. We used it a couple of times and it became apparent here were two prices!
Soon our visit to Hoi an was to end and the next venue is to be Tam Coc south or Hanoi.