Suits You Sir

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, June 2, 2006

The trip down the road to Hoi An had some really great scenery with green shrouded hills lining the coastal road that I really wanted to just go and explore. Stopping at a road side cafe for lunch (I'd already stuffed my face with a couple of baguettes before we left Hue though) I saw the usual bottles of rice wine called Ruou complete with pickled snakes inside but these ones where the largest I'd seen yet including a couple of giant scorpions, sea horses and cobras that made me wonder how on earth they ever got them inside. Makes our ship in a bottle souvenirs back home seem a bit lame in comparison.

Taking a chance on the hotel the bus pulled up at, usually meaning more commission for the bus company and less money for me, I was pleasantly surprised as I found a new modern hotel complete with pool and spa and the en-suite rooms where both clean and airy and complete with balcony, cable TV and fridge. To make it all the better I met Dylan from Australia also traveling solo and so we chose to split the already reasonable cost and share a room.

As Dylan decided to sleep, he looked like death on the bus coming here battling both the heat and a hangover, I headed out to check out the old town of Hoi An.

I was already much preferring this smaller more relaxed town than Hue which was a bit uninspiring really and on entering the old town which is another UNESCO world heritage site (suppose with 800 odd heritage sites now there stature is somewhat diluted) I immediately loved the small old colonial style buildings all painted yellow giving the place an even brighter feel.

The town may feel relaxed but on encountering the many skilled tailors, cobblers, craftsmen, artists all competing for your business the place takes on a whole new air. The many tailor shops were you can get a tailored suit made for you in 24 hours for as little as $20-$30 were buzzing with the sounds of sewing machines hammering away on the latest orders while the mass of shoe shops, like the tailors, could whip you up anything you wanted from a selection of the latest clothes catalogers, any I really mean anything.

I had thought about getting a few things made but that small little used part of my brain that commands common sense convinced me of having no easy way of carting around a suit or two (or three) in an already stuffed pack back. Instead I decided to spruce myself up by getting a haircut and on being asked if I wanted a shave for a mere 10,000 Dong I lazily accepted as I then watched with eyes wide while a young Vietnamese girl sliced closely around my neck with a razor large enough I'm sure to be classed as a small sword.

After returning to the hotel with my head a little lighter but thankfully still attached I met Dylon who was just up and we jumped on a coupled of bikes and headed down to the near by beach just a 10 minute cycle from the hotel.

The beach was crowded out on arrival but not with foreigners or tourists, in fact we did not see a single non-Vietnamese person there besides us, we later learned that around 4pm the beach starts to fill up with people heading for a dip after work. It was not surprising anyway giving the warm water, golden sands and general undeveloped-ness of the beach with next to no building or touts in sight apart from those offering mats to rent to sit on as we wondered if this was the price to stop our stuff going walkies while we were in the water.

Down at the beach we got a good insight into one other cultural difference here in that the people, specifically females, really like white skin (my Scottish weathered white legs got quite a bit of attention) and will go to extreme lengths to try to minimize their sun exposure with many of them being completely covered up with scarfs around the faces and long gloves covering their arms even despite the 30+ degrees heat. Lounging on the beach we could see many people still covering up as best they could which I figured negated the whole purpose of the beach really but each to their own I guess.

Riding back to the hotel we must have been shouted at by every single person we passed or passed by but they were all genuine calls of "hello" or similar rather than "motorbike" which made a refreshing change even though I felt like I could do with one as I obviously had to pay extra to get a bike with gears that worked.
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