Made to measure capital... Lets go shopping

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Hoi Pho

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, June 17, 2010

Actual title for today "Hoi An - Made to Measure Capital of the World, oh and we set our own Stevie R style challenge"

The sun rose at about 5.15 and the insomniacs on the bus were all awake excited about the sunrise and the views of the countryside, yes you guessed the coach was asleep, snoring away and the driver and I were both awake. Erica was unconscious dribbling all over her pleather seat (unfortunately I didn't have the camera) Erica securely stored that and the laptop in the ailseway on the lower deck while we had the top bunks so we may as well have considered giving everything away (Yes Emer we still have a paranoid one who thinks everyone is out to rob us (moi) and another who is so trusting we just leave anything anywhere (The lady). Anyway the views of the paddy plain were unbelievable with the red sun reflecting off the water that part filled the paddies. Everyone was at work at 05:30 in the fields a view that will long in my memory, I tried to share it with my fiance but she looked like she was going to beat me to death.

After arriving from our first night bus Lady E was very stroppy after having had "No sleep what so ever" I had to remind her several times she actually had 10 hours sleep and was hardly awake for any of the journey (I knew this as I was awake most of the night). We checked into a hotel at about 6:15 for 6 pounds a night. Then as there was no electricity it was too hot to sleep so decided to go and explore the town. A beautiful town with lots of really old fashioned wooden buildings, we saw the Japanese Bridge and locals starting to prepare for a days work, only a few of the famous Hoi Ann tailors had started to open their doors. We walked down the river front to the market which was fabulous as always. at about 06:30 the fishing boats were still arriving so almost created a floating market of their own as they jumped from boat to boat trying to get their fish to the market floor. A lot of ladies gutting fish while they still flapped and an enormous tuna or something (see pic but you only get a sense of the size when you see the large scales and Asian style meat cleaver that is huge itself). Erica did a runner as it must already have been about 30 degrees and the meat markets do genuinely stink. I was the only tourist their and it was great to mingle laughing and joking with the locals (even though they would say something in Vietnamese and I would be speaking English so no common language other than "Bye Bye" which they seem to love).

We then walked through the remaining key streets past all the painting and art shops. All in all I think we had covered the whole town by about 8am. We then walked up to the tourist cafe and booked straight onto the My Son tour which left in 15 minutes time.

My Son is an old temple complex built between the 7th and 13th centuries by the Cham minority before the migrated to the Mekong Delta, subsequently it got bombed during the war as the VC based themselves in this area. It was all very interesting but Erica was feeling Hot and Tired, very hot and very tired so we had to admit defeat after an hour and a half and find shelter. We were warned not to wander far off the paths due to the amount of unexploded bombs still in the area.

We got back to town by 13:30 and went for another mooch around town and all the tailors were out in full force. It seems the main reason people come here is to get a variety of dresses and suits made to measure in whatever material they desire. A cashmere suit is about 75 dollars and you can get them posted home. We have heard mixed reviews people who designed their own shirts with different coloured colours and cuffs and people who took pictures of designer dresses which are then replicated on a made to measure basis. Other people suggested when the clothes got back home the stitching had already started to come away.

We then decided to take shelter from the heat, surprise surprise with a few swift halves. After an hour or two of persuading the woman it was happy hour 'our happy hour started'. 2 Gordon's G&T's for 40k dong or about 1.30p strong stuff as well. Needless to say our lack of gin over the last 3 months has meant we probably went a little overboard and surprisingly we decided that we needed to set our own "Stevie R Challenge" to ourselves at about 5:30 pm.

The challenge - To try and get ourselves some made to measure clothes before we went to bed. We started in the first tailors inquiring about shirts, and silly suits for me to where everyday until they fell to pieces, it wouldn't have worked in the heat thought and it was an expensive joke, which wasn't physically possible to make in time. We therefore decided to see what we could get. Having always been a bit handy in the garment making game this came naturally to me. Well we had to bargain hard for our item to get it within a reasonable budget and had to let the lady in the shop choose the cheapest material / off cut she had. It took several shops to get it within budget and would be ready by 8:30pm. The fact we were drunk and tired from the bus made us think we might not manage the collection.

The mighty Ho Chi Minh freed the people of Vietnam from French rule through a communist regime and subsequently his party 'reunited the country' under the communist flag of Vietnam. When we were leaving the Philippines we didn't want to go and I hated the idea of going to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as the guide books made it sound terrible. As you may have picked up we loved Saigon in the end, anyway that is why we decided my garment should honour Saigon AKA Ho Chi Minh City.

In the mean time (and after not eating all day) we ended up in another bar which was a charity organisation where we got stuck into some political debating about communism with the owner. His Bia Hoi (Fresh Beer) was in that morning so was guaranteed to be above 4% for 4000 dong (about 12p). We sank about 3 or 4 of those and some white rose (a regional speciality prawn dish). The world cup games had started so we headed over the road to a little locals bar to have the craic with more people that didn't speak English. The only problem was the beer tasted of fish, and when I checked the freezer sure enough their was all kinds of fish randomly scattered around the freezer on and around the cans. All very odd, the time had come to go and collect my Made to Measure Garment for a shoestring budget so we headed back to the tailors. I don't want to say any more. See the pics!!
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