After a day wandering the old worldly streets of Hoi An, getting caught up admiring the classic Japanese and Chinese architecture, and generally falling in love with the place, the sky darkened, the moon rose up, and the village atmosphere turned from charming to magical.
Every month it’s the tradition in this slice of Vietnam to celebrate the full moon by lighting candles, singing songs, eating special food and offering prayers to your god of choice.
The atmosphere is infectiously festive as people invite you to ‘make wish madam’, or ‘you take special boat ride and light candle’ as you mingle with the easy going masses. The gorgeous faces of locals, children and wizened grandparents are illuminated in a hauntingly beautiful way by candle light.
Extra tables are dragged in to the cobblestone alleys to ensure every available space is utilized for dining with abandon. Banana cakes and sugary sweets are as much part of the monthly celebration as snacking on noodles made from the sacred water of a nearby well.
Ultimately though, the most beautiful part of the Moon Festival is about the transforming qualities of light. Light that illuminates the spirit of locals and tourists alike, highlights cosy corners, dark alleys and the curve of the river, as well as celebrating beauty as the moon looks down over the multi-coloured patterns of hundreds of lanterns. Lanterns made by hand using traditional methods, in every shape and colour imaginable, some more intricate and charming than others, but all of them mesmerizing in the dark of night.
Yes Hoi An is a touristy place, but the kind of destination that you can easily understand why. It’s a place where you can still lose yourself in the romance of imagining how Vietnam was; before the sudden influx of war or technology tarnished a life that was possibly more focused on traditional beauty and craft. Capturing that mood in a natural way, forgetting about focus and letting shades blur with the contrast of night was my main aim in taking these images.