I have no way of knowing this but I suspect that Hoi An's laid back feel makes it an inevitable destination for backpackers. I have no way of knowing this but judging from the numbers of backpackers that I saw in Hoi An, I'd say that that was very much the case.
I have a mixture of respect and wonderment for backpackers; respect for the fact that at such a tender age they set off to explore the world. Lets remember that these are not the hippy backpackers of the sixties and seventies that set out with such high ideals and optimism for the future of mankind. Those brought up during the era of 'Peace and Love', a time when the world was considered a much more benign, beautiful and wondrous place than it is today.
Of course the world is still this wonderful, beautiful and mostly benign place that it ever was. We just don't think it is. And that's the point, today's backpackers have been raised on a diet of wall-to-wall media coverage of all the dangers present in the world; terrorism, Islamism, shootings, bombings and generally overly played out coverage of every bit of gratuitous violence the world has to offer. Yet still they go.
Now of course the world is still no more and no less dangerous than it was in the seventies and sixties. I appreciate that of course some countries have got more dangerous, but many more have become safer – much safer. The backpackers of today, set off with the medias' dire pronouncements about the state of the world ringing in their ears. They may not have been the pioneers but they set off with equal, if not greater, confidence in their beliefs that the media is not an accurate reflection of the world, but a view of the world that our ruling elite likes to project.
As for the wonderment; seeing small young women teetering under enormous rucksacks which tower above them. Young men, with packs at least as large as their girlfriend, that's their Girlfriend not their girlfriend's packs and with a smaller rucksacks strapped to their fronts. What on earth can they be carting in there?
Respect and wonderment. Did I mention jealousy? Yes of course jealously! Who wouldn't want to be young enough and free enough to be doing it with them?