Daily life in Hoi An

Kyle here. We’ve spent over two months in Hoi An now. After covering 13 countries in the first four months of our trip, we’ve really enjoyed the switch to slow travel and the relaxed pace of life here. And we’ve met some great friends here, both locals and other traveling families. Here are some photos and details to give you a sense of what our daily life is like here.

Our Neighborhood:

We found a place in Cam Thanh on the edge of town so that we could have more space and some distance from the heavier traffic and flow of tourists in the Ancient Town. But, we’re still within a short bike ride of the market, restaurants and anything else we need.

We’ve been the lucky first tenants here. Our landlord finished building right before we moved in and he’s been diligent about maintaining the yard, plants and pool.
On a typical morning, we see the sun rise through some haze that burns off with the morning.
Our view from our upstairs bedroom; many of these local families work as rice farmers in the fields just out of view behind these houses.
Since the rain stopped, we’ve been enjoying the pool daily. Max enjoys it a bit more often.
Despite a language barrier that limits conversation, our landlords have been very kind to us and have invited us over for dinner on multiple occasions.
Mr. Hoa, on the right, lives down the street with his family. He is a nephew to our landlord and has served as our translator and guide for anything house or neighborhood related.
Fellow long term traveling kids + Boom Pizza.
Biking is our main form of transportation here. We can also use Grab (Uber for SE Asia), but most places we need to go are within 20 minutes by bike. OK, well there was a spontaneous 3 hour long “5 Bridges Tour” loop that I put the family through in December. Henry still talks about that.
Most locals here rely on motorbikes. Families of 3 or 4 can share a single motorbike. Traffic is much calmer than Hanoi and Saigon, but can still be tricky to navigate on our bikes.
And they like to test the carrying capacity limits.
We are next to this estuary that flows into the larger Thu Bồn River.

An Bang Beach:

An Bang beach is about a 15-20 minute bike ride for us and a great place to spend afternoons and to meet up with friends. The beach side restaurants offer recliners with umbrellas and tables for food + drinks.

At the beach, the kids stay busy swimming and digging. Friends here are also travelling long term with their families.
Henry likes to bury himself in the sand.
Max failed to plan around the tides this time.
An My Rest Stop: a little restaurant that we like to stop after the beach.
You can fish next to the restaurant and they’ll fry up your catch to eat.
Henry caught something, but not a keeper.

Ba Le Market:

The nearest large scale supermarkets are in Da Nang (40 min drive), so we spend a lot of time at the market, the bakery and the mini-marts near the market. It took a couple weeks to figure out where to get everything, how much to pay, when things were open/closed. But, we quickly established a routine around shopping. Eating out or getting delivery is very affordable here also, with lots of great options.

Fish at the Ba Le Market
Buying meat here is a different experience.
The variety of vegetables and fruits available at the market is dizzying.
The fish are fresh here. Sometimes we’ll see a fish jump out of a bucket onto the floor.
She’s cutting up our tuna for steaks. They were very tasty.
Back from a typical shopping errand

Ancient Town:

The main draw for tourists in Hoi An is “Ancient Town”. Aside from the 16th century historical landmarks, there are countless restaurants, boats offering rides, lanterns and lights of all kinds, vendors selling clothes and souvenirs, and more.

Ancient Town at night is well lit and usually busy with tourists.
The hanging lanterns are strung across many of the streets in Ancient Town.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, 16th Century.

The Rice Paddies:

The growth of tourism into a significant source of income here is relatively recent, coming in the past 20 years. Traditionally, rice farming has been an important source of food and income for locals and rice paddies still surround Hoi An on all sides. One of the highlights of being here is cycling on paths through the fields every day.

The rice field of our landlord, just a few minutes walk from our house.
I like to walk down to the rice paddies in the morning and late afternoon.
During the day local farmers are coming and going with various tools and doing various jobs: plowing, weeding, seeding, spraying, etc.
The rice plants grow fast. This is just a couple weeks after planting.
More rice paddies down the road.
A simple scarecrow.
Water is everywhere in Hoi An; the sea, the rivers and all the flooded rice paddies.

The Cemeteries:

There are small cemeteries all over Hoi An, squeezed onto islands in and around the rice paddies. We follow the bike paths through these spots and often see people here honoring their family members.

Incense offerings
Hoi An is in central Vietnam. It was part of South Vietnam and allied with the US during the American War here. Although it’s been less than 50 years, there are not many signs of the war left here. This soldier died during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Along with incense, soda and energy drinks are a common offerings at grave sites.
This marks the grave of a concubine of one of the 17th century emperors.

The Animals:

We see a lot of water buffalo here, usually bathing or getting muddy in the rice paddies.
A baby, with bug protection on its back.
We have a LOT of chickens living in our back yard and all around the neighborhood. It took some time to get used to the rooster calls. They come early and often in the 4am-7am hours.
Baby chicks
We also have cows and pigs living next door.
There are a lot of dogs living in our neighborhood. They’re surprisingly well behaved.

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