Lantern workshop, Hoi An
Lantern workshop, Hoi An.

2 December 2017 – It’s funny how a song can sometimes trigger a memory of a certain time and place…

Take “Rhythm of Love” by the Plain White T’s for example: hearing the song transports me back to San Francisco in 2012, at a time when it seemed to be all over the airwaves there. Then there’s “The Ketchup Song”, which reminds me of a trip to the island of Langkawi, but also unfortunately reminds me of “The Ketchup Song” (note that someone had decided it was a good idea to play it on a continuous loop on the speaker system during our three hour ferry ride from Langkawi to Penang).

Quite a few steps up from a song titled after a condiment is one titled after the breakfast staple of many a backpacker in Southeast Asia: “Banana Pancakes”, by singer-songwriter and musician Jack Johnson. The song (which started out as a joke between Johnson and his wife but has since become one of his most popular hits) is a a simple, feel-good ditty about a man saying to his wife, “hey look, it’s raining outside so let’s just sleep in, pretend like it’s the weekend and I’ll go make us some banana pancakes later”.

That song will now, and will quite possibly in the foreseeable future, remind me of Hoi An.

It’s not that the song was playing a lot during my time there, or because of the rain, or that both song and city have a laid-back kind of vibe…no, it’s that after seeing the sheer number of street carts serving the treat at Hoi An’s night market, it’s an easy association to make!

A banana pancakes stall in Hoi An's night market

For the record, we quite enjoyed the dessert, served here with a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top.

Pancakes aside, the main star of any night’s visit to Hoi An would have to be the lanterns. As bright (and yellow) as the area is by day, the UNESCO world heritage listed Ancient Town section truly comes alive in the evenings with the many coloured lights out on display. They are everywhere in the old town; in fact, shop owners are required by law to have them lit after dark.

Madam Kieu restaurant in Hoi An

For those wishing to purchase some, the night market located on Nguyen Hoang Street is where you’ll find many of the lantern shops, like the one below.

Lantern workshop, Hoi An

During an evening stroll one night, my wife and I noticed a particular pup (below) walk past us. We caught up to him a little later on at Tran Phu Street, sitting all alone and staring off into the distance. It sat still even as I approached with my camera.

Hoi An at night

Hoi An at night

Hoi An at night

A visit to Hoi An would seem incomplete without seeing the Japanese Covered Bridge, arguably its most iconic attraction. I highly recommend visiting either during the early morning or in the evening when the crowds thin out a little. The added advantage of a night visit is getting to see the bridge all lit up.

Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An

There’s also plenty of action by the Thu Bon river itself, making it a great place to sit and watch the world go by. And perhaps treat yourself to some pancakes while you’re there – what could possibly be better?

Hoi An at night
A bridal shoot in the rain.

Hoi An at night

Say hello!