Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
23Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
Once arrived at the airport and reunited with Miriam and Nathan who had disappeared off for breakfast to meet up with a friend from home we set about getting on our flight which for a seemingly simple idea turned into a rather complicated and stressful 30 minutes. You see we were already late and then Jet Star’s computer system decided to crash leaving us with 3 minutes before the desk was supposed to close, standing in the departures with our bags unsure whether we would make the plane or not. After much pushing, shoving, stressing, queue jumping and running we made it to the half empty plane which explained why the tickets two days before hand had been so cheap.
We landed in Danang and pretty much had the same hassle getting a taxi. We eventually bargained a guy down to a more reasonable price and with the addition of a Spanish couple set of to Hoi An
We eventually got into the town centre and found a place to stay. A 3 star hotel none the less. The biggest accommodation mistake so far on this trip - not because of the price - at $7 each you could hardly complain as it was lovely with a large swimming pool, gym, bath tub in the ensuite, tv and air con and all that but there was one problem
Back in Hoi An with our unfriendly hotel staff and cockroaches we were yet to meet at this stage things were going well. The sun was shining, the iced coffee was excellent and the pool a wonderful escape from the clutches of the all too eager tailors. I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted made which I thought was a shame as we were in the best place in Asia allegedly for tailor made clothes and shoes. It was also quite a relief and after having a quick flick through one tailors catalogue of Next clothing from their 2003 season I made my excuses and headed back to the pool for a little bit of quiet time
The situation began to deteriorate the following day however. We went to the cloth market which I assumed just sold cloth and so had let my guard down. However a eager little tailor obviously sensed this and I had been grabbed and directed to her area before I could make any objections. I was absently mindedly flicking through the book and before I knew it I was having a dress and shirt made for me. How and when and why I’m not quite sure but it was done and id been felt up and measured all over and had chosen material without really giving it much thought. I was reassured though when Nathan got a shirt and Miriam got two shirts made as well. Our plan had been to go to the beach but by the time we got back to the hotel and all that it wasn’t really worth it and so we just parked ourselves by the pool for the afternoon before Miriam and Nathan had to go back for final fittings for the clothes they had ordered the day before.
Dinner was a wonderful market affair followed by scrumptious ice cream and a wander which rendered our wallets even lighter
We rented 2 bikes between the three of us and I would like to point out that Nathan drove like a granny and also kept forgetting to turn off his indicators. I will admit the first time I indicated I forgot to turn off mine but I learnt my lesson whereas he kept his on the entire way to the beach. Even though I kept reminding him by yelling from my bike as I overtook him. Which I noticed whenever I had to pull in and wait for him to catch up
The water was actually a little bit too warm if you’ll believe it. When it’s as hot as it was in Hoi An you want to jump into some nice freezing sea like at home but all you get with the water off the coast of Vietnam is water as though you’re in a bath and it’s beginning to get to that point where you’re thinking about getting out but it’s still quite pleasant and warm. That was the sea. It was very strange. Definitely the warmest water I’ve ever been in. But it was so calm and so clear that it was lovely to swim in even if it wasn’t quite as refreshing as what was needed.
I stopped to take some photos on the way back and was convinced I knew the way back on my own but ended up taking the scenic route as I liked to think of it. Luckily there were several large maps on the side of the road with an arrow which I presumed said ‘You are here’ so I’d stop occasionally and work it out from there and by pointing and saying ‘Hoi An’ to Vietnamese people on the side of the road. I eventually got back into the town and figured out where I was. I then had the fun of figuring out the one way streets half of which were dug up due to road works so with lots of driving on pavements, going the wrong way down one way streets and taking up the favourite Vietnamese pastime of hooting my horn I eventually got back to the hotel before Nathan. I also witnessed an almost horrendous crash which somehow narrowly avoided any real damage with two bikes in front of me. But being white and being the only one around and without the language I reckoned it would be all to easy to get mixed up when all I was doing was driving behind so seeing no one was hurt I just overtook and skedaddled out of there
The clothes were looking good - the ones in the cloth markets needed more alterations but with the exception of one if Miriam’s shirts which in the end turned out really well but was a bit of a mess at the time it was all good. With less than 24 hours left in Hoi An there was no way we could get anything else made. Or was there? I had decided not to get any shoes made as Miriam wasn’t entirely happy with the ones she had had made and Nathans turned out ok in the end but with a lot of extra work but the pair of cow boy boots he got made turned into a bit of a disappointment as the writing he has asked for on the side which was the main reason for getting them made was simply forgotten and it was impossible to do as an add on. And of course there was no way a discount or even an apology was about to be had. So after that I had decided it wasn’t a good idea. But no harm in having a poke about one of the shops I reckoned as there wasn’t enough time anyway. There were some nice shoes in there - all from English shops and then they used them as models to base their own hand made ones from. Spotted a cool pair of boots which me and Miriam had both been talking about. The woman asked when we were leaving and when we said 11am the following day she said that was no problem. And it was at this point the trouble began
I sifted through the colour options and found the same pink as the lining of the coat I was having made. So I decided to go for them. After much deliberation from Miriam she decided on the same and we got measured up and very excited about our wacky boots.
The hotel managed to really wind me up later over the bicycles that were allegedly free but turned out to be only free for 24hours and then they didn’t believe me that I hadn’t used mine as Miriam and Nathan had already used the bikes. Eventually I got a bike after seeing rats bigger than I’ve ever seen and so left the hotel much later than I intended to and in a much worse mood. Which was intensified all the more with a phone call from the shoe shop asking us to go back as there wasn’t enough material. Or something like that - Vietnamese people are so difficult to understand over the phone. So eventually got going, found the others and headed to the shoe shop to find out there wasn’t any of the pink suede - not even enough for one pair. Over the course of the next hour I learnt why fashion designers are as particular and fussy over their work as they are. When you have something stuck in your head its difficult to be persuaded that anything else could work quite as well as your idea
After packing, it was back down to the cloth market where after 3 lots of alterations our clothes were eventually ready and then on to assess the damage with the shoes. Which was quite a lot. Asides from no insoles, using the wrong heels and different thread Miriam’s didn’t even fit her properly. Which is annoying when you have something tailor made! There wasn’t enough time to get that sorted and insoles could be bought and added later but the heels were a problem. So after a little bit of a wobbler partly due to the woman’s attitude and partly due to the quality - I appreciate time was short but she had persuaded us the day before that that wouldn’t be an issue
Hoi An had been wonderful - it was ridiculously hot, there was a pool and the sea near by, more tailors than non tailors and a delightful colonial feel to the stunning town. However it was also tourist central and due to the over population of tailors not very much rest for the wicked. A thoroughly brilliant time was had by all though and I’m so looking forward to getting home and being able to wear all my wonderful clothes!