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Hoi An: Cargo Restaurant and Tet Celebrations in The Old Town

by Sanne
Hoi An, Vietnam

The Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrations meant that we got to see a very relaxed version of both Hanoi and Cat Ba Island, so we weren’t prepared at all for that crazy, crowded blast of a party that awaited us in Hoi An. Wonder where everybody goes the days after Tet? A good bet would be Hoi An!

The first night we went out for dinner in the Old Town, and the short walk to the restaurant in the Old Town was just as packed as the front rows at a One Direction concert, minus the screaming teenagers, plus the huge groups of Asian tourists. It was worst in the area around the Japanese Bridge and the surrounding streets. You would take one step forward, then bump into someone, then step aside, before taking one step backwards again.

We had dinner at Cargo, which is an Old Town Tridadvisor darling that the receptionist suggested us to try. A note placed in front of the menu apologizing for slower service as they had allowed many of the employees to take the days off to travel to their hometowns. Along with the long line waiting for a table upstairs, I guess that should have served as a warning, but we sat down and ordered some food and drinks. The first dish arrived within 10 minutes, but then it all slowed down and after one hour, we still haven’t seen anything of that pan-fried sea bass, we had ordered. I felt sorry for the staff working at Cargo that night. They were really doing their best, working their *sses off, literally running between the tables. Before we left I suggested that they would consider scaling down during the holidays next year and only accept the number of diners, they could serve properly. I’m sure that Cargo is so much better than what we experienced that night, when the staff isn’t pushed so far beyond what’s reasonable and fair.

After dinner my mom and dad have had enough of the crowds in Old Town, so they went back to the hotel, while I decided to go for a walk on my own. Down by the river was an amusement park, which attracted a lot of locals. Kids were staying up late and spoiled with sweet treats and colorful balloons while the dads were trying their luck in the shooting gallery. There was also a big stage with live performances and the atmosphere was contagiously cheerful and light-hearted. I stayed there for more than an hour, so when I was ready to start walking back to the hotel, it was really late and the streets were almost empty. The colored paper lanterns shrouded the winding streets and the beautiful old buildings in a warm, enchanting light, and I could finally see why Hoi An Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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