Hoi An is known for it’s silk tailoring, everybody told us this on the way down and once we were there. We’re neither big fashionistas, functional is generally the rule, and let’s face it there’s not that much call for silk suits or shirts in fish farming. I remember when I first started a boss saying how it didn’t matter what you wore, or tried to keep smart, it would always end up with a line of fishy- smelling matter at about waist height where you had been leaning on a tank, or sorting out some problem or other. Years ago back on the Isle of Man it was blue overalls, and whether you walked into the plumbers/ builders centre in Castletown, or the garage at lunchtime to pick up some hot food, everybody would know where you worked the moment you walked in. Thing is you get immune to the smell, you just don’t notice it after a while, same as you get used to the sound of water running in the background. Back to ponds: I can’t stand the sound of water running, it brings back too many memories of waiting for the inevitable pump failure and the profound silence that can only mean near or an actual disaster.
Hoi An is a pretty nice place to stay though, the town is nice and relaxed, the beach is close enough to bike to. The food is good, the bars by the river are pretty cool. We met up by chance with the Americans from Halong Bay, Jimmy and Undine as they biked around, went for a meal, a few drinks, narrowly avoided visiting the “meat market” on the other side of the river, and got wet feet walking back through the flooding tide.
The street sellers were pretty slick, but nice enough. A lot more than could be said for some of the tourists photographing in the markets though. People are trying to make a living here, if you want them to pose incessantly and not get on with their day to day to life, then perhaps consider paying them a fair price to model just for you. I blame the ubiquity of digital cameras and this weird belief that capturing everything will ensure it is recorded for posterity, or that it somehow legitimises your experience. I don’t get that: what happened to your memory, can you not just file an experience away and then recall it with all the blur and haze of time at a later date? Are we all too “busy” or “important” to maybe fill in the gaps between what you remember and what you think you saw? Does everything have to be recorded? In an age of mobile phone microstock photography it seems we are all travel photographers competing for an ever-decreasing slice of kudos or cash, so why bother? A few people will make some money and everybody else will spoil it for everyone else- I don’t discount me from that formula.
The girls on bikes were nurses working at the hospital up the road from the hotel. Really nice people: I had to mime “intense, cramping, back pain” and “ibuprofen”. I think I did OK. We did less well with the “banana women” and the “lucky birth year charm girl”) although to be fair I did buy a charm off her that was tied to my camera bag and took the brunt of the fall when I crashed a scooter a few weeks later, cameras: OK, knee, elbow, feet, smashed.