This Monday was the first full day of sunshine in more than two weeks. Sort of anemic sunshine for sure, but the sky was decidedly blue versus gray for a change. It did not rain all day. Sadly, if the weather forecast is accurate, a nasty storm will arrive in Hoi An by way of the East Sea sometime tonight or tomorrow. We apparently are in for a couple of days of heavy rain at the very least. The flooding from our first big storm of the year, now more than two weeks ago, has mostly receded (the floods making international news are to the north of Hoi An), but there is still plenty of water standing in the fields. If the storm brings heavy, driving rain for any length of time, roads will become impassable and life will get messy again.
After the horrific storm on Sunday, the rain tapered off and there were only sporadic showers overnight. At ten o’clock Monday morning, the lane in the distance was passable, but the lane running by the wall on the left that would get me there was not. It was early afternoon before I was able to get away from my house – by a very roundabout route – to do some much needed food shopping. It is Monday evening as I post this. It has not rained all day and the flood water has started to recede. Unfortunately, there is plenty of rain in the forecast for the next few days.
The air was so damp that I had a little condensation in the camera which fogged up some of the photos I took this morning. I worked to clear this up with Photoshop, but the row of houses in the background still does not have as much contrast as it might.
After 24 hours of almost continuous driving rain, it is safe to say the flooding situation has gotten dramatically worse in Hoi An. The motorbike path in the foreground appears to be clear to a main road shrouded in rain and fog in the distance. This, of course, is no guarantee that the main road is passable. Sam is a nervous dog at this point, and I would be fibbing to say I am enjoying this storm.
This year’s rainy season arrived in central Vietnam several days ago. To make sure nobody missed the change of season, Hoi An is now into its fifth day of steady – sometimes torrential – rain. The fields around me, fallow after the recent rice harvest, are flooded, but the roads and pathways near me are wet but passable. My house has had no water problems so far, fingers crossed. There is significant flooding in parts of Hoi An. Hopefully the current storm will soon pass, but in any case, we can expect lots of rain and rainy days for the rest of this month and November. The rain should taper off in December.
This was shot at 9:30 in the morning. Any hint of the sun or blue sky is well-hidden by the brooding clouds.
The Lion Dance comes to Hoi An for Vietnam’s celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Troupes of dancers tour the city’s restaurants and public spaces. Restaurants pay to book dance troupes. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for this – a group of dancers practiced near my home every night for a month or so before the festival. I suspect the young performers earn a tidy sum during the holiday. The troupe that is performing in the restaurant I visited made several dozen appearances during the three day festival. These photos are from three days ago – I could have been better organized with this post.
One of Hoi An’s numerous eateries targeting foreign residents and visitors, The Hill Station has excellent food and coffee, and as an added bonus, the second floor of the restaurant is a marvelous interior space. Beautiful colors from soft pastels to vibrant primaries, luxurious textures, and airy with plenty of windows to provide subtle lighting – a great place to have to myself on a weekday morning with camera in hand.
Hoi An’s central market seen from across the Thu Bon River.
This photo was taken towards the end of July. For several weeks prior to this, Vietnam had experienced few new cases of covid-19, and none were community transmissions. The government had eased domestic travel restrictions, and Vietnamese travelers were returning to visit tourist centers like Hoi An. The people in the photo are from all over Vietnam. Not a mask in sight. The feeling, generally unspoken but real, was that Vietnam had dodged the covid-19 bullet and we could relax.
Within ten days of this photo being taken, covid-19 cases had spiked in Da Nang 20 km away, and all of the new infections were community transmissions. Authorities locked down Da Nang and sealed off the city, closing the airport and setting up police check points to restrict road access. Hoi An followed suit, locking down about a day after Da Nang had. By the time the lock down began, all of the tourists in Hoi An were gone – if I am not mistaken, the government organized road transport and extra flights to get people home as quickly as possible. Virtually everything closed in Hoi An and the streets were empty. People, yours truly included, were nervous. The virus was spreading by community transmissions and the epicenter of the spike was in nearby Da Nang.
Resolute action on the part of public health authorities combined with a local population cooperating with government efforts to contain the spread of the virus allowed Vietnam to get the late July spike in new cases under control by the end of August. But not before several hundred people became infected and more than 30 died. The lock down in Hoi An, which saw less and less “locked” as the end of August approached, ended formally a few days before the end of the month, and Da Nang re-opened several days later.
The rush to open up for tourism has not occurred this time as it did in the spring and summer of this year. Restaurants, shops and other businesses are open, people are out and about, but if the tourists have begun returning to Hoi An, I have not noticed. People are certainly relieved to resume life more or less as normal, but a wariness remains, a feeling that we still might not be done with this.