Celebrating the Full Moon – Local Style

Japanese Covered Bridge

The rain kept us from exploring much in Hoi An, but Sunday was special; it was the full moon!

You are probably thinking: the full moon, so what? Not very special, well in Hoi An it is…

The streets were wet from the rain, but fortunately it was just sprinkling when we headed out. We grabbed our bicycles parked on the pavement across from our homestay and rode to the old quarter.

After a short trip we arrived near the river. The stone streets from the center were narrow and long, so it was hard to know how crazy full it was until we were already in the mix. It was tough balancing our bikes, trying not to run over any people… everybody and their momma was out!

Hoi An is the only place in Vietnam that does this type of ceremony; it happens every full moon of the month. This weekend was extra special, because in addition to the full moon there was also the mid-autumn festival – The Dance of the Dragon.

Sounds fancy uh? It was very entertaining and loud. Many groups of young kids roam around town dressed up with dragon costumes; they play the drums, sing and dance. I was impressed (and scared) when one of the kids climbed a 20 foot pool and started dancing at the top. They were having a blast!

It was impossible to ride the bike in the streets, plus we looked pretty dumb doing it so we parked as quick as we could and continued by foot. Even to walk was tough, with lots of touching and stepping on people, but everyone was so excited and amused that no one seemed to care at all.

After we passed the large masses of people gathering around the shows, we found a little street food spot along the river and had some delicious barbeque. To our right we could see all the locals selling and buying cardboard lanterns with little candles inside to release on the river. The idea is that when you release, it brings you happiness, luck and love. That is what they do every full moon.

After dinner, Adam and I went over to get a close-up view of the action. A woman approached us saying “for the good luck please, only 5000 dong” (the equivalent of $2.50). We each got a lantern and dropped it carefully in the river, watching it go away fast with the current.

I thought what a great way to celebrate. With the excuse of the full moon the whole town gets together, eats out, floats a candle on the river, and enjoys the views. Hoi An knows how to do it!

Vietnam is our last country in Southeast Asia and we are very thrilled we had the chance to experience something like this. We have been traveling for almost a year and throughout we’ve wanted to be at a festival where you can see locals celebrating and we could take part of it. We finally found it!

More Southeast Asia stories coming soon. Finishing up Cambodia, Saigon, and a motorcycle ride up the Ho Chi Minh trail. Next stop, Halong Bay!

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