Hoi An is renowned for its old world charm, its charming little village, the charming merchants at the market, the charming antiquated museums, the charming traditional music performances... in other words, the place is supposedly chockers with charm. After spending twenty-four hours in this UNESCO-listed Charmapalooza, I am willing to say that it is nothing special. Vendors hawk their wares with little concern for the lack of use for much of what is being sold. Tailors try to measure you up for a suit even as you persist in walking down the street. The fish and meats sits in a seemingly-inedible form at the market, as locals purchase some as they lick their lips. And moto drivers cruise the streets, desperate to score a ride even though the town is a simple grid of half a dozen streets, easily navigable (except in a few cases, see below).
On one occassion I was desperate to buy a replacement for my waterlogged beach/bath towel, which has endured much punishment in the past month. After speaking to a vendor who was keen to win my business, we considered the options. The towel she had on offer was pittifully small for my needs, more of use to dry hands or buttocks rather than a whole me. After thinking for a moment, the vendor told me to wait and she scurried off to find something. Three or four minutes later, she returned, insisting that she had the perfect towel for me. In her hand she held a table-cloth, with a crocheted patten and thin cotton material. Despite much evidence to the contrary, she valiantly persisted in insisting that it was a towel. Leaving the table cloth with her, I moved on.
Late at night after sampling the delights of the cosy Treat Bar (and its counterpart, ReTreat... geddit?) I ventured home. On my way home, however, the rain started falling and was getting heavier and heavier. Despite my philosophical objection, I hailed a moto-taxi (riding on the back of a motorcycle) for the short ride home. As we slipped and slid across the road, I had second thoughts as to the wisdom of this particular caper. By the time we were just 50 metres from the guesthouse, even the moto-driver was reluctant. Stopping the motor, he 'walked' the bike the remaining distance, with me on the back. Despite me offering to walk that leg (geddit?) myself, the driver was insistant. I would stay on board, in the rain, no matter how long it took him to take me to the door. Though it was only 10,000 dong for the ride, I'm not sure how much it would have been for him to tuck me in to bed. I'm sure he was willing.