Along Hoi An, Vietnam’s riverside, numerous boat owners offer to rent their wooden vessels for journeys of an hour or more. Since Hoi An’s coastal position afforded it such a great trading fortune in centuries past, we were eager to explore the Mekong’s waters by boat.
With a Vietnamese dong rate negotiated, we hopped onto the watercraft. The last morsels of a bundle of incense sticks burned at the helm, honoring the spirits and expressing the driver’s and passengers’ wishes for a safe voyage. Like most boats in the region, a primitive eye was painted on the bow – designed to ward off evil spirits and to find the way.