If at home spring comes in like a lion, here it rages like Godzilla. The day after we extended our lease on the house for one more month someone turned up the dial on the furnace. Overnight the temperature rocketed up into the high 30's and in the last few weeks it has reached 40 degrees and beyond on occasion. The humidity is crushing. After a few days cowering in the house we tried for relief at the beach but the change was even more pronounced there. The water, which had been cool up until the end of March, now was as warm as the air and the sand so hot we couldn't traverse the space between our umbrella and the ocean without burning the soles of our feet. The cool ocean breeze we'd become accustomed to felt more like the hot air circulating inside a convection oven. Even under an umbrella the sun seared. I've never felt more like a Thanksgiving turkey, and now even a few minutes in the sun makes my skin crisp. In addition to 60+ sunscreen and long pants and long sleeved shirts we wear hats and carry an umbrella at times. I am starting to
look at the Vietnamese women in their gloves, hoods and face masks with respect - they know enough to avoid the sun. Even our little garden critters are overwhelmed. Bats have started to find their ways into our house mid-day when they should be sleeping; they find dark corners or anywhere in the breeze the fans blow. We come home to find them swinging on the curtains directly in front of the large stand-up fan. This afternoon I surprised a gecko as he was traversing the back wall of our bedroom, the only room in the house with A/C. I swear the little guy was trying to communicate with me telepathically - his beady little eyes pleading "don't make me go back out there, man".
In case I haven't painted a clear enough picture: it's hot.
Since we're semi-hermits during the day, we are going out a lot more at night, enjoying the relative coolness of the evenings. There's always something to see but on the 14th day of the lunar month a special festival takes place. Every month Hội An celebrates the new moon. The historic down town is closed to motorized traffic and candles are lit
and released into the Thu Bồn river. Bridges are lit up with coloured lights and hand painted lanterns are everywhere. People throng to the riverbanks and bridges to watch the lanterns flow down river and the night is alive with colour and the sound of people laughing and talking. We get lost in the crowds, exploring alleys or walking along the river.
We've been lucky enough to experience four. In February the streets were thronged with tourists but now it's low season and that's changed. May's celebration was attended mostly by locals and visiting Vietnamese people. Families came out to celebrate and children were everywhere, posing for pictures and running in between legs. The night was hot and humid and the warm breezes did little to dry our perspiration. We wove through the stalls that sell hand painted lanterns, buffalo bone jewelry, and other trinkets, and the women selling banana donuts from carts.
Also in May the festival coincided with a religious celebration and we came upon a large group of people outside of the temple on Hai Bà Trưng street. Everyone stood outside the temple gates to listen to the monks drum and chant. Children and teenagers
were dressed up and carrying instruments. When the monks were done a parade started. The young people began to drum and sing and make a large paper mache dragon dance into the old quarter.
There was any manner of dessert or sweet available for purchase on the street, but we settled for homemade coconut ice cream that melted all over our hands on the way home.
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