Next morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise. Tom had told Thao it’s my birthday, so I was treated (verwöhnen) to a Happy Birthday song by Thao, Hung and Tom plus a lovely birthday cake! Best morning ever! I shared out (teilen) the cake so we could all enjoy a piece of the deliciousness.
As if the massive Tet dinner we were invited to the night before wasn’t hospitable (gastfreundlich) enough, we were invited to join Thao, Hung and An to go to the local pagoda to pray. We were absolutely amazed by their kindness and thankfully accepted their offer. Before leaving we were introduced to yet another of their Tet traditions – lucky money. At first it felt a bit bizarre, that they would give us money, as we are the ones paying them for their accommodation, but Thao explained that it is a tradition to give everyone you know a small amount of money. Sadly I can’t remember if she said we have to spend it, to receive luck, or to keep it safe. We decided to keep it as a nice memory of our time out here during the Vietnamese Tet festival.
At the pagoda we had a really nice insight (Einblick) into their praying culture and I had a nice and really interesting chat to Thao about similarities (Gemeinsamkeiten) and differences (Unterschiede) between Buddhist and Christian traditions. What I found really inspiring (inspirierend) – seeing that people in South East Asian countries are really religious and that their every day life is strongly connected (verbunden) to their religious beliefs (Glaube) and traditions – was when Thao mentioned how it doesn’t matter to her if An is religious or not or if she wants to come along to the pagoda to pray or not. We were both pleasantly surprised (überrascht) about how accepting Thao is. She also told me about her father, who never came along to pray when she was a child and how she would join her mum out of her own free will (eigener Wille).
After we came back we decided, for a little celebration, to spoil (verwöhnen) ourselves and go to the spa. Magic Spa, just at the edge of the Ancient Town was the Spa of our choice. We enjoyed a 15 minute herbal bath in wooden barrel bathtubs (hölzerne fässerähnliche Badewannen) and then a 15 minute steam bath. After, we had a one hour massage, which also included hot stones, which we both enjoyed a lot.
When we got back to Coco, deeply relaxed from our treatment (Behandlung), Thao had prepared (vorbereiten) a Tet lunch for us (got to love her!), which we enjoyed on our balcony, before An joined us on a boat ride over the river.
Tom and me started to row (rudern) the boat, but it didn’t turn out as easy as we thought it would be. After going in circles, we VERY slowly zig-zagged along the river. In the meantime (In der Zwischenzeit), An got a bit nervous and I quickly realised, she didn’t approve (billigen/gutheißen) of our rowing skills. So I handed my paddle over and after some initial difficulties (anfängliche Schwierigkeiten), Tom and An managed to row the boat up the river and back to the jetty, where Thao waited for us, taking pictures of the three of us. It actually was a very enjoyable ride for me, as I fully got to enjoy the scenery and of course I made sure (sicherstellen) to tell them whenever they weren’t doing a good enough job!
After a few games of losing (verlieren) against An at Uno (she’s really good!), Tom and I set off into the city on our bikes for dinner and to have a look around the Hoi An Lantern Festival. Every year during Tet, the Ancient Town is decorated and in the evenings lit up (erleuchtet) with many colourful lanterns (Laternen), which make the city and the yellow facades (Fassaden) of the buildings look even more beautiful than during daylight (Tageslicht). Even the river was lit up, as you could let your own candle float along the river for a small sum of money.
The whole scenery of the city was a beautiful spectacle to look at. As we arrived, we parked up and had a walk over the bridge and along the river. The city was packed with people and from colouring clay figures to hitting filled cardboard balls (gefüllte Pappbälle), there were activities for children as well as for adults everywhere along the river.
We decided to walk over to the opposite and slightly quieter side of the river to enjoy a bowl of Cau Lao (unfortunately not as good as Thao’s) and a few beers at the night market. What a great birthday!
The next morning we, again, woke up to blazing sunshine (strahlender Sonnenschein), so we decided to make it a lazy day and enjoy a good book on the deckchairs next to the jetty. In the evening we made our final visit to the “life changing rice” resraurant for dinner (I really don’t understand why he made such a fuss about it. It was good, but not absolutely amazing. I’ve had better. Tom: “blasphemy!”).
Our final day on Hoi An, we spent at An Bang beach. We rented two loungers (Strandliegen) and enjoyed the sun. In the evening we cycled to the city one last time for dinner, before having to pack our bags, to leave for Da Nang in the morning.
We had a wonderful time in Hoi An, not just because of the absolutely wonderful place we stayed at, but also because Hoi An is such a beautiful place to visit. Definitely a big highlight of our trip.