Shopping – I Mean Hoi An

Greetings everybody! Annika here again. Simon suggested I do the post for Hoi An on account of the shopping aspect – it being one of my key skills you know!

Well, as Simon said, we arrived in Hoi An after a pretty hellish bus journey and then had a nap for a few hours until I decided that we should really go and check out the town so managed to rouse sleeping beauty and make it down to the town (lets be clear, for my own reasons entirely, which will be soon become clear).

Hoi An is known for two things really (well 3 including the food specialities) First, the lovely old town, a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences and second, tailor made clothes. I’ll say that again, tailor made clothes – how exciting! Having done the prerequisite research on the internet I chose the most expensive place and we launched ourselves into the world of getting clothes made for us – a little bit more bewildering for Simon than me but not by much!

After carefully reviewing their detailed books of clothes (a selection of pages cut out from catalogues and magazines) and Simon narrowly having discounted choosing a shirt similar to the one that Rod Stewart was wearing in an article of him showing off his lovely home, we set about choosing materials and getting fitted.

But a matter of 24 hours later the shell of the clothes had been done – in my case they had managed to recreate a dress from a picture I showed them from a UK website and we just had to collect them – checking the length etc.

The whole process is pretty amazing I have to say. When we first left the shop I was a little concerned that they would have got something wrong or not been able to make the dress I wanted but I was really amazed by the skill that these people have and the finished product was better quality than you get in the UK and quite a bit cheaper.

I’m kind of hooked on this tailored clothes thing now and will be trying to recreate it in London! Anyway, a total of 2 days later and the whole lot were done – wow. I’ve sent them back to London by sea mail so apparently they will take a max of 4 months (although with that kind of delay you would think that someone’s grandmother is carrying them from Hoi An to London) so when we get back they will be waiting for us.

The rest of the time in Hoi An was spent wandering through the old town and visiting the local beach which was rather spectacular with a rather amusing woman that got our attention by shouting ‘Oi, you come here’.

Of course our stay in Hoi An wouldn’t have been complete with a 4am start to go and see  dawn over the ruins of My Son (Vietnam’s best archaeological site). The morning started well when we managed to get out of bed and navigate through streets with no signs in the dark to get to My Son but it didn’t go quite to plan.

As dawn broke we were about 10k from the site and due to the clouds there was no actual sunrise as such.  Arriving at the site we were the first people there and had to wait till it opened. We had a slight technical issue with the camera not having any batteries and, unlike Angkor Wat (although My Son is a lot smaller), there were no signs in badly translated English to help us and we wandered around the site not really knowing what any of it was. At some of the sites we could see that most of the ruins were still hidden under  mountains of vegetation. Also, the place had been heavily bombed by the Americans during the war as the Viet Cong had used it as a communication centre ,so there had been a lot of damage (huge bomb craters and crumbling walls) which didn’t appear to have been repaired so far or made safe . Still, it was further evidence of the amazing  architectural feats that the people of this area had achieved over the years.

All in all Hoi An was great, if a little touristy, but without the craziness of Saigon (aka much less motorbikes) and a lot more relaxed. Simon reckons it’s somewhere he would like to come back to and I guess I could be convinced if I had to, to get a few more items of clothing.