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Three things happened to me today: I took some beautiful photos of an old town, had way too much black coffee with condensed milk in a charming little French themed café that had drawn me in with it’s display of artfully arranged puddings and almost had a nervous breakdown because of an old lady in a boat.

Hoi An is a cute town of old colonial houses and colourful Chinese lanterns strung across the roads. It offers friendly cafés, good restaurants and interesting street food places. It’s located in an area of lush green rice fields. It is also a Mecca for getting anything tailored that you could possibly imagine. Hoi An is one of these places that is insanely beautiful, but has become incredibly overrun, the downsides of which can mostly be enjoyed down by the riverfront.

Women on the streets of Hoi An
Street in Hoi An

“Hello! Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Heeeelllooo! Hello?”

The woman on the boat repeats the same word over and over again, like a broken record with a scratch on it, her tone getting whinier by the second. It is probably the only word she knows. I’m trying to tune her out and take a photo of the river, but start to become more and more irritated with every repeated greeting. Still, I’m determined to be the stronger one this time. This time, someone being purposefully annoying wouldn’t make me acknowledge them. Her vocal cords must give out at some point, right? I adjust some settings on my camera, but the hello’s don’t stop until eventually, I finally just want the noise to stop and turn around and give her the what-the-heck-do-you-want look.

“You want boat??” she asks, gesturing wildly towards the wobbly thing she is seated in.

Woman in a boat in hoi an

She must have seen me walking along the water and turn down 20 other touts in boats (heh) before her, so far each time with a forced smile and a no thanks. Maybe she thought 21-time’s the charm. Maybe I should have ignored them all.

“NO, I don’t want ANY of your boats,” I yell back, skipping the thanks this time, hoping the other touts in the vicinity would hear me as well and that it would finally sink in that I really don’t want any damn boats. As usual, it’s a futile hope.

Only two seconds pass, before I hear another “Hello! Miss! You want boat?” and all the weeks and months spent in Southeast Asia, the noise, the inability to go anywhere without having something aggressively pitched to me every five meters, the yelling, the hassling, the whistling, or people being annoying in some other way come crashing down on me.

“Oh just shut up!”

I’m shocked at myself. Had I just told a wrinkly old Vietnamese lady to shut up? She probably didn’t understand me. Still, I spend the next ten minutes simultaneously feeling guilty and hysterically babbling to Brendan about how I can’t take Asia any more.

The conclusion I draw from this story? I need headphones.

About The Author

Tiffany is a Swiss travel writer, digital nomad, and photographer, who, after a fateful journey through Africa, has decided to get her passport renewed, sell all her junk, and live out of a suitcase in various corners of the world, as well as share the experiences with other travel enthusiasts. This blog is intended to inspire you to pack your bags, leave everything behind for a while, and make you go discover the world. Check her out on .

4 Responses

  1. Charlie

    Oh it is so difficult to stay patient with the street sellers and boating women in Vietnam! I can totally empathize with your situation here. I spent most of my time trying really hard not to snap at them after being asked a 100 times if I want to buy some black bananas. In the end I decided to see it as a test of my patience – the longer I could go without snapping, the more patient a teacher, friend, girlfriend, everything I would be!

    • Tiffany

      You need some serious inner Zen to stay calm when assaulted by 50 seller. Good idea though about making it a challenge for yourself, I’ll try that next time. I still have a few months of Asia ahead of me 🙂

  2. Lauren

    Aww, Tiff. You’re a tough nut. Hang in there. Though, next time, consider commandeering her vessel as a literal translation of “You want boat?” 😛 Then post pics of her startled response.


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