The red bag treachery

Trip Start Jan 06, 2005
Trip End Jan 26, 2005

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Our final day in Hoi An was buying time. We went to my clothes shop and with a couple of final alterations I was happy with my new wardrobe. I also discovered a long, grey felt coat with a hood that I desperately wanted. I'd tried to haggle with that shop owner a couple of times and she refused to budge, so I eventually caved in. It was only about $30 for a full length coat anyway, but after some time in South East Asia I lose sight of Australian prices and get determined to bargain down to a cent. My disappointment over the haggling was satisfied by retail therapy once I had the coat in my arms.

After buying Ian's clothes we were so burdened with items that Ian decided we had better buy some of the ridiculously cheap bags (whether they're rip off or not I don't know - my North Face one is flawless) at the market.

The only problem with this plan was that he'd promised to buy bags from a little pregnant lady's shop near our hotel that we passed all the time. We'd developed a rapport with her, it was our regular snack stop, and Ian promised each time, after her sales pitch, that he'd buy this big red Salomon ski bag from her.

But with too many clothes to carry, practicality got the better of us and he bought the same bag from a stall near where we'd bought the clothes. He was so worried about upsetting this little lady that he made the cyclo drive a longer way back to the hotel, to avoid going down the street her shop was on.

Later that day, before our departure, we left the hotel to get some snacks for our onward journey. We went to the little pregnant lady's shop to by some pringles and other unhealthy travelling snacks. She asked Ian, with less enthusiasm than usual, whether he was going to buy the bag.
"No, not today..." he said. She looked him in the eyes.
"I see you on a cyclo with a red bag," she accused. Ian was stunned and embarrassed. First of all he pretended he had no idea what she was talking about, and then when it was clear she'd seen us he confessed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. We had so many things to carry... I'm sorry," he said, being his charming cheeky self, holding his head like he felt so awful his brains would fall out. The little pregnant lady was a charming and cheeky as Ian, saying
"Ooooh, I forgive you but you buy many more things," she said laughing. So Ian went on a snack-buying frenzy of guilt.

I think the lady enjoyed catching Ian out because the rapport strenghtened. She asked about our relationship,
"Why you not married!?" she said to us, tutting in disapproval. We asked her again about the baby she was expecting, and then about her husband (assuming her disapproval was backed up by a solid marriage herself).

She then invited us back behind the shop front into her home. We met her sisters and husband, the family dogs which Ian charmed, and their pet bird. She then offered us some of the sweet potato the family was eating. It was so lovely to be invited into her home. It was one of the most memorable experiences of Hoi An. We left with best wishes, truly meaning it.

I hope her good karma from being so gracious and friendly after Ian's treachery gives her a healthy child and a happy life.
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