Hoi An. You make my heart beat faster. I’m in love with you. Ever since I first wandered through your old city, I knew, every other town I will visit in future will have a hard time competing with you. It was love at first sight. I never wanted to leave you. But I had to. My travels were calling me. But, I promise you this: I will come back. One day, I will be back for longer.
If that is ok with you?
I wish I could put down into words properly what intense happiness you made me feel. Especially when I explored you on my bicycle. I felt free like I had never felt before. Pedalling through your beautiful streets – lifting my bike over your Japanese bridge, manoeuvring my way to the river to eat your delicious food.
I will never forget how this day made me feel.
Lying on this empty picture-perfect beach listening to soft tunes. Look how pretty your beaches are – aren’t you immensely proud? This day was more than I wished for. And I concluded it by cycling to a nearby beach restaurant, where I had a delicious mousse au chocolat. I closed my eyes in that moment. To savour – to enjoy – to store this moment.
You remember, I know.
Do you recall when I had lunch at Soi Hoian? When the owner was busy preparing lunch for his family? He offered me some of their lunch, if I wanted to try. Of course I wanted to. This is where I discovered your speciality: Mi Quang.
The watercress blended beautifully with the turmeric infused noodles. How funny the texture of those croutons were. And the pork…it was perfect. It had been as good as the Duck Noodle soup you enticed me to try, this Tuesday afternoon, at Mango Rooms. You smiled back at me. You knew my love for bold colours and how much the interior will make me feel like I’m at home.
‘One day when I have my own home, it will look like this…’, you heard me say.
Later the one evening, I cycled over to the other side to see your famous lanterns. If it wasn’t for my on-going travel plans and had I had a home to travel back to, I would have bought some of them. Because, look at this! Every garden would instantly transform itself into this enchanted fairytale with your lanterns. Do you realise how pretty they are? Yes, of course you do. You know. These are what makes you famous, my love.
This is part of your charm.
I was fighting a cold that week. Had I not, I would have returned to my little cafe, you know the one with the yellow and blue interior (you laughed at me for taking photos in the bathroom…but come on…even the bathroom was tastefully decorated…I had to!) – the wine bar. I would have sat there, looking out to the street, dimly lit by lanterns, and I would have savoured this moment. And yet, I still enjoyed my time there:
I ordered vanilla ice-cream…
I wanted to thank you for your kindness. For the kindness of your people. Thuy organised the bus for me to go to the airport the next morning. She promised to phone me and she did. She said ‘don’t thank me. One day, I would hope someone would do the same for my daughter’ and smiled at me, squeezing my hand. The owner of Soi Hoian – did you know he gave me a bag of this tea he brews at his restaurant every day? I enjoyed it so much and when I enquired about it, he said ‘Wait! I have something for you’. And he came back with a bag of tea, just for me.
This kind gesture touched me so much, it made me all teary.
You are magnificent. Tantalizing. Fascinating. Wonderful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Thank you for making me fall in love with you.
I will be back.
That I promise you.
Has a city ever touched you so deeply you could write a love letter to it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.