Our plan was to park in Hoi An and find a volunteer gig for a couple weeks before my family comes to visit. But alas, we arrived in Hoi An to find that most opportunities require a minimum of three months of volunteering. Understandable, considering the training they require, but not something that worked for us.
So we decided to do the next best thing: early retirement.
We have been kicking around Hoi An for two weeks now, and this is what it must feel like to be retired. We have zero appointments on the schedule each day, and we while away the hours relaxing, drinking beer, going for runs, exploring the town, lounging at the beach, riding our bikes, and eating amazing food. And most of the good friends we have met are over age 65.
Downtown Hoi An
One of our favorite restaurants
Hoi An is known for its lanterns and the town lights up at night.
There are no words.
One of our favorite sunset spots
Sunset in a bottle
Our youngest friend
Quintessential Hoi An: Conical hats, bikes, and offerings in front of tailor shops.
Fancy night out with newly tailored clothes
Motorbike ride day-trip
Motorbike ride through Hai Van Pass
Apparently this is significant.
We are here in Vietnam for the Tet (New Years) Holiday. Mostly, it means there is an increase in karaoke and public drunkenness. Also, the city is covered in flowers and kumquat trees and it’s common to see locals carrying gigantic potted plants on the back of their motorcycle, steering with one hand and holding the plant steady with the other.
There are two people on this bike.
So much foliage
Our home base in Hoi An is Homeland River Homestay, located on Cam Nam Island, which is a 10 minute bike ride from the main downtown area. It was great to be just outside of the busy downtown area, in a quieter section with the waterfront right outside from the back patio.
Back patio of our homestay
Our running route, right out the back door of our homestay.
Rice cakes on our running route
We were generously invited to our Homestay family’s Tet party along with extended family and their neighbors- there was so much great food, and bottomless cans of beer!
Tet celebration at our Homestay
Bloggin’ on the patio (with Cale just back from a run)
Kiddos playing with fire at the Homestay
We were able to find a small volunteer gig that didn’t need a long term commitment, luckily! A school for deaf children called Paddy’s Jewel needed some excel help with their 2015 financials. Bingo, a way we could be useful! I also got to guest-teach my go-to activity: making pop-up cards with the kids on their last hour of school before the Tet Holiday. Luckily, pop up card making is a universal language. The kids were adorable- most of their artwork was just scribbles but some of the older kids made some pretty fancy pop-up cards.
Lanterns on the river, with the Japanese Bridge in the background.
For the new year we took an overnight train back to Saigon for a special treat: my family is coming to visit! They arrive late tonight and we will make our way back north from here. Happy Tet, everyone!