Suits You Sir!

Trip Start Jan 23, 2012
Trip End Jun 09, 2012

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, March 12, 2012

We woke yesterday morning at about 7am and as expected, our guide informed us that the train was running late! We slept a lot better this time - thanks to the both of us having the top bunks in our cabin, we were virtually oblibious to the man snoring underneath for most of the night!

We arrived in Da Nang at 11am, a mere 2 hours late, and transferred to a private bus for the short hop to Hoi An - arriving only 30 minutes later. After checking into our lush hotel (with rooftop swimming pool, I might add), we went on a walking tour with the group to familiarise ourselves with the town.

Well, what can we say about Hoi An? It's beautiful. Stunning. Absolutely beautiful. So much so that it's been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let's first explain why though. In the French colonial years, Hoi An used to be a major shipping port, but thanks to the lowering water levels in the area, nearby Da Nang was chosen as the major shipping port - thus allowing larger ships to dock. The result being that Hoi An escaped virtually unscathed from the several wars this country has faced.

And it shows. The ourskirts of town are pretty well developed, with many multi-story hotels dotted on the winding streets - all tastefully done I might add. However, a short 5 minute walk takes you right into the centre of town. Almost every street is lined with trees; behind them, shops, houses and hotels - all no more than a couple of stories in height. Most are painted yellow and have wooden doors and windows fitted. Hoi An is also known for it's silk lanterns, meaning pretty much every shop sells them, or has them hung up outside. This means that at night, the streets take on a new edge, with beautiful multi-coloured lanterns lighting your way. Couple that with the fact that they often close the streets to traffic, and also pipe local Viet music through speakers dotted on each street, it creates a beautiful, incredibly relaxed atmosphere. Look at the photos - words just don't do it justice!

After our orientation walk, we set about our first find a tailor! Hoi An is known for it's tailoring - in fact they have over 400 dotted about town. As such, you'll be hard pressed to find a better, or cheaper tailor anywhere in the world. And most will make you a fully tailored suit in less than 24 hours! And it doesn't stop there - if you want shoes, a bag, a winter coat, a shirt, or anything made in fabric for that matter, there's a tailor who'll make it, from scratch, and at a fantastic price!

Finding a tailor was pretty difficult though, as there's just as many good ones as bad. However, we spotted one in particular which had three showrooms dotted about town - one of which had some great looking suits on display. I won't bore you with the detail, but suffice to say we headed there, and after two hours, we'd chosen our materials, been fully measured, and were promised we'd have our suits the next day. We also popped a few doors down, where Sophie spotted a particularly nice dress. We enquired whether they had it in her size, to which they replied they'd custom make hers from scratch for the next done!

In the evening, we headed to Bale Well - a very local restaurant known for one thing - all you can eat pork spring rolls. In true Vietnamese style, once you're done with your food, you throw it on the floor, so you'll see from the photos that it wasn't much to look at, but the food was incredible!

And onto today!...I'll try to condense today's events into as little detail as possible, but we woke up pretty early and set about buying some gifts! In between our shopping and suit fittings, we also managed to visit several of the local sights, including the Japanese Bridge, Chinese Assembly Hall an old house and several temples - all stunning, and built with an Asian style, as you'll see from the photos.

We also managed to squeeze in two separate visits to our tailors, and by 4pm, we'd picked up three beautiful fully tailored suits - all made in less than 24 hours...and for a fraction of the price in the UK! In fact, I was so impressed that I ordered another to be shipped straight back home...totally by accident of course, oops!

After heading back to our hotel, they then arranged for a representative from the post office to come and collect all our suits and gifts from reception, which they then carefully boxed, and which are now being shipped back to the UK air mail. How's that for service!

So...we leave Hoi An tomorrow. It's fair to say we love the place, and would dearly love to stay a few more nights. Not just because of the fantastic tailors and gifts on offer - but because it's such a laid back, beautiful town which oozes character. We've decided this could well be our favourite town we've ever visited - a pretty big statement, but true. If you ever have the chance to visit Vietnam, make sure Hoi An is on your to-do list!
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