“Hello, you want to buy candle?”.
I had already got used to the question, soundtrack of my evenings along the riverfront in Hoi An. Children and old ladies sell you candles for 20,000 dong (Happy Hour: two-for-one): you buy one, make a wish, then place the candle on the river and let it float.
Tonight, though, it all became more meaningful.
29 March 2014, 8:30pm: Earth Hour.
This is when millions of people across the world switch off lights for one hour – to celebrate their committment to the planet.
Given the key role of lights and lanterns in Hoi An by night, the effect of switching them all off was very dramatic. At 8:30pm everything became suddenly very dark, pitch black. I was walking along the riverfront and there must have been thousands of people there, mainly youngsters. The area around the bridge to An Hoi island was completely jam-packed.
There were groups running around holding hands, groups playing guitar and singing songs, groups creating environmental-related paintings on large sheets of paper. The atmosphere was happy and lots of cheering was going on.
And then there were the kids and the old ladies selling candles.
Most of us bought one: some people just used them to create light as they walked, while others (me included) placed them on the river.
In the complete darkness the effect of hundreds of flickering candles on the Thu Bon river was amazing!
At 9:30pm the sound of a siren announced the end of Earth Hour and all lights and lanterns were switched on again.
This was such a different way of experiencing Hoi An compared to the previous nights (click here for my blog post) and I am very lucky to have been able to live Earth Hour here :-).