“I only planned to stay a couple days but I spent 11!”
“The hotel said that they’re booked for the next few days!”
“There are so many things to do here!”
These are just a few of the things that I’ve heard people say in and about Hoi An. It’s home to an enchanting Old Quarter with antique-looking buildings, the Japanese covered bridge, tailors and tons of souvenir shops. All of the people I met were absolutely in love with Hoi An.
I am not one of those people.
I went in with every intention of loving Hoi An since I’d read so much about the architecture and heard so many people say incredible things about it. We walked around Old Town, it was pretty, there were old-looking buildings, there were tons of lanterns still hung up from Tet celebrations and, for some reason, its seduction techniques didn’t work their magic on me.
We checked how much it would cost for one of the many seamstresses to make us custom clothing, we wandered the streets, we searched for more local, cheaper restaurants (to no avail), we booked our bus tickets out of there, we biked around town and to the beach. I had an okay time but it wasn’t anything special.
I think the reason for this is because Hoi An felt like one big facade, like everything and everyone in the town was there solely for the purpose of tourists. I felt this most strongly when I was walking home after a couple friends decided to go to the bar after we had dinner. I was walking through the deserted streets of Old Town with shadows dancing around everywhere, slightly lost and had the feeling like I was wandering through a movie set after the crew had left for the night. It felt scratchy. It felt fake.
I know that I can’t expect to not see some touristy things and areas, seeing as hostels are generally located in these areas but Hoi An, to me, felt like plastic.
Till next time, Internets.