Just as Saint Paul de Vence is the city I love the most on the Cote d’Azur, for me, Hoi An is absolutely the most beautiful city in Asia (well, at least so far… ).
And this is the way I discovered Hoi An: mysterious, lighted by one thousand colorful lamps, quiet, warm, still wet after the rain.
The next days I discovered more of this wonderfully peaceful city, with its light, with the market next to the river, with one million clothes shops selling silk and cotton and everything in between, with the mysterious food stalls in front of which you would never be quite so sure whether you’re buying something sweet or salty, with the beautiful yellow colonial houses and the traditional dark wood houses, with its people, its palm trees, its light. It made me want to linger on the streets, breathe in the beauty and the colors, watch the sun playing on a wall or a wooden carving, refusing with a smile all the offers of making clothes at the shop around the corner, feeling the smell of the sea in the air or just enjoying my Asian coffee in the afternoon sunlight.
And on the last page of Hoi An’s story there is the cafe in which we waited, over a cup of green Vietnamese tea, the train towards Ho Chi Minh City (some time ago called Saigon). The street lights, the old sewing machines turned into tables, the little “antiques” hanged around us made me feel like we were continuing to be in this fairytale land we stepped into when arriving in Hoi An. Just that the cafe, as any reliable passage gateway, was already bringing into the realm we were about to leave some hints of the world laying outside the gate: bits and pieces of old computers, old telephones, flashlights, signs of busy city life, signs of future technology.