orange gleamLit up by the orange gleam of street lights, she smiles and says “hello.” It is the first night of full moon after Tet. I smile back and say “hi” as I try to think if I know her. The Café guard dog Saluton and I look at her walking away, with flickering restaurant lanterns and chrysanthemums of Trần Quang Khải in the backgroundbut his mind quickly becomes preoccupied with other street issues and we continue with our stroll. Streets and alleys of Hoi An are filled with such encounters, with people I have never met before.

It is unusual to see a human being walking a dog (or vice versa) here in Hoi An. In fact, I have not seen anyone else do it. The local dog community is mostly roaming in streets barking at passerby dogs and tourists. Some challenge Saluton entering their territory, and are chased away by guys sitting by the side of the road. Several times in the past, a diner sprang out of their seats to place a bone on the ground in front of us. Based on Buddhist traditions, people go on vegetarian diet around full moon, and such fortune for Saluton is unlikely tonight.

Due to the weekend rain, some of the alleyways we walk through resemble canals of Venice, but in the morning they will become breakfast restaurants busy with commuters grazing through on their mopeds. Instead of colourful flags and banners celebrating Tet, they are decorated with family washing and drying plastic bags fluttering in the wind. Two blocks away from the Café we see a woman picking out from her plastic bag a crab, and freeing it in to a stream. Five minutes later, we are at our riverfront alley, dusted with duck feathers.