Like I said in the in the Hoi An overview, if you’re anything like me you’d have seen the lanterns all over the old town and said to yourself “that’ll look great in my… (insert appropriate part of house/garden here)”.
So, you’ve checked on Amazon and aren’t prepared to pay the £30 it will cost you when you’re home. You see they can be collapsed so might fit in your bag if you don’t buy the 28 movie posters, packet of chopsticks and every item of clothing imaginable in pineapple print. But rather than haggle and buy one as is, why not have a go at making one?
We found a course with Backstreet Academy for $17 per person. We booked the night before and there were plenty of time slots available. We’d had one previous experience with Backstreet Academy (a meditation course in Vientiane) which hadn’t gone as expected (the monk didn’t bother turning up!) but the customer support was decent and they refunded our deposit etc. All paid up, we received directions of where to go the following morning.
The next morning, fuelled on Cau Lau and not wearing our best clothes we made our way to the class (just north west of the old town). Some reviews had said it was difficult to find. They must have acted on that feedback because not only was there lots of lanterns and people sat down making even more lanterns, there was big sign saying “Lantern making workshop”.
So after introductions and a cup of Vietnamese tea we learned about the history of lanterns, the different types, their different meanings and how long they all take to make. This is where you get to choose the shape you’d like to make.
I’m not going to give a step by step commentary of exactly what we did because that would be pretty boring for you. When you see the materials laid out in front of you you might think that it’s going to be easy, and it feels like it starts off that way.
At one point I did think I was going to end up like Ralph Wiggum when he glues his elbow to his head, but help is always on hand to make sure your lantern actually resembles a lantern rather than an odd shaped kite.
We actually spent more like 3 hours making our lanterns, but there was no pressure for us to speed up. There’s loads of different silks to choose from so don’t worry if you don’t like the look of ours. You’ll be shown how to expand/collapse your lantern without breaking it and you’ll walk away with yours packaged up ready to be transported home (about the size of 2 440ml beer cans stacked on top of each other) although I’m sure you could take it away in its expanded state to hang in your hotel room for the remainder of your stay if you so wish.
Tour was booked via Backstreet Academy – check online for discount codes as these are normally available.