Photo Friday: The Women Of Hoi An

It’s not Friday. But this was meant for Photo Friday. So here it is… only a couple of days late. Unfortunately I’m not that far ahead of the rest of the world that I can blame it on the time difference.

Hoi An, Vietnam (Yes! That is the place that I took a cooking class with Gioan Cookery School) is UNESCO World Heritage Site port city in the central part of the country and a major tourist site. It’s home to a bright and well-preserved old town, with centuries of Chinese and Japanese influence. It’s was the quietest, cleanest city I visited and even though it was a pain to get to (don’t take the road from Hue to Hoi An if the weather is nasty!) and I was hassled by women asking me to ride their boats, it was the highlight of Vietnam for my sister and I.

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An.
Hoi An, Vietnam. Fruits for sale.

What was most striking about Hoi An was its undeniably strong female presence. It was women who approached me about going on their boat. It was women who sold me fruits and bahn xoai (mango cakes) along the Sông Thu Bồn. It was women working in the rice fields as we peddled out of town to reach the beach. It was women who chopped up mean with huge butcher’s knives at the market.

 

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam.
Touching meat and on her cell phone.

There is something so quintessential about the women of Hoi An. Maybe it’s that they fit the perfect stereotype of what Westerners want Vietnamese women to look like. They wear the nón lá, or conical hat. They sit in seemingly uncomfortable squatting positions, as if their legs are two bendable plastic limbs waiting to be molded into a new shape.

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam.
Sitting in the market. 

With the women we encountered, they seemed to be doing all of their tasks effortlessly. No matter what it was, they doing it with ease, their faces-wrinkled but calm-showing no angst.

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An.
Cooking in Hoi An, Vietnam.
(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam.
Selling produce and food at the market. 

The women at the markets were selling to many people at once, preparing food and all the while appearing unfettered. While visiting the market, I noticed that most of the customers were also women.

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam.
Buying produce at the market.

If you’ve visited Hoi An, did you feel the female presence? 

(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam
Cleaning up behind the market.
(c) Allison Yates. Hoi An, Vietnam.
My sister walks in front of a woman carrying purchases. 

 

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