19.06.2010 - 23.06.2010 42 °C
We arrived in Hoi An at about 4pm, hot, sweaty and tired. The beauty of this town made it all disappear. We checked into a cheap hotel and Matt went to explore while I cleaned up. By the time I made it out of the hotel dusk was falling and all the lanterns were lighting the town. As I strolled through the narrow lanes of Old Town I fell in love. I eventually made it to the river and met up with Matt. We went and had dinner at a place called Cargo. It is a gorgeous upstairs riverside bistro that served amazing western food. We had a magnificent dinner of clam chowder and fajitas (which was a nice change after eating nothing but authentic Vietnamese food) and wandered downstairs. It was then I realized that there was a French patisserie attached to the restaurant. Pastry and coffee what could be better!! I was determined to come back the next morning for breakfast. We slowly walked back to the hotel and managed to only make a few stops along the way including a hotel room of a Canadian couple who were immersed in the world cup who recommended a tailor for me and when we made it back we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.
6am the next morning the air conditioner/power turns off. Our hotel room does not have a window of any kind. As I am the sleeping dead I don’t realize until about an hour later when the room is stifling hot. I wake feeling like I can’t breathe. Trying to get ready in the dark and escape outside where I am hoping there is a breeze. I thought it’s all good I will get an early start on the day and go and have breakfast and people watch. It was not any cooler outside. The sun is intense and its only 7am. What makes it worse it that I am sure that this is the only town in Vietnam that sleeps in. The only things open are the local Vietnamese places and for the life of me I can’t remember how to ask for a coffee in Vietnamese. I tried miming to a lady and she just looked at me as if I was crazy and walked away. I was about to try and find a coolish place to sit when I met a woman from New Zealand who was on the same coffee mission I was. She said she knew of a place near her hotel where the waitresses spoke a little English. So we sat in the nice shady area and enjoyed an ice cold coffee. Lovely! Mission accomplished.
After seeing how Matt was doing in the sauna that was out room we decided to change hotels to one that had a generator. This was similar to Nha Trang where they had one day with power and one day without. Hoi An is hot. With no breeze. At all. We had a look at a few and picked one out of the guide book because it has a spa bath in the room as well as a pool. Luxury!! Matt went to test the pool and I sat under the air con for a bit to finally cool off. After I was feeling human I went for a wander to the tailor that was recommended to me. Inside there was a lovely woman named Tuey and her husband. We sat and drank ice cold lemon juice and looked through catalogues. I found a few things I liked and Matt came down and had a look around as well. I decided to give her a go as her prices were amazing. I ordered a 4 piece suit, another skirt and a knee length winter jacket for $140.00. Very excited. She didn’t have the fabric that I wanted for the jacket so we jump on the motorbike and head down to the fabric store. After I was done I went and joined Matt and Taylor (Matt had bumped into him somewhere along the way) at a restaurant and had a bite to eat before getting to the pub to watch Australia’s hopes of making it through to the top 16 in the world cup go down the toilet….
I wake up a bit excited to go and see how my clothes are coming. We head down to breakfast and I go off to get my fitting. They are all a bit big but coming along nicely. Matt finally emerges and we have a look through a few more tailors but not finding anything that we are too interested in. We have dinner at a place called Retreat that has 2 for 1 drinks. I am very happy after leaving and Matt suggests we go and have a look at getting shoes fitted. Are you kidding! Of course I am interested in having boots made. As we have found out at the markets and at the travel agent, it isn’t the best idea for me to go after a few drinks. I was willing to give them everything they wanted and more for 2 pairs of boots and a pair of shoes for Matt. I agreed on a $150 price and I was very impressed that Matt still managed to get them down to $120. In the end it all worked out really well and I have awesome boots to bring home!
We went for a bit of a wander through the town and market the next day as well as a having a few fittings. Have I mentioned that it is hot here! We escape the heat and ducked into a tailor that Matt seemed interested in. She was a newly opened tailor who walked the walk and talked the talk. She had amazing fabrics and good knowledge of how the garments were going to be constructed. So we went with her. Matt was still a bit cautious so I took the plunge and said yes. We ordered 2 suits for Matt, a business shirt, a silk dress and another 2 piece suit for me. She wanted full payment upfront to which we said no way. She convinced us to give her half against our better judgment under the condition that if we were not happy we would get our money back (silly westerners). She was sure that we would love our clothes so she agreed.
By this stage we had done a lot of ordering of different items from Tuey and some jackets from another tailor. The next few days were full of fittings and things seemed to be going well until I tried my dress on. It was terrible. It didn’t sit right and looked nothing like the one I wanted. I mentioned a few things and she got hostile. I didn’t want to create a bad situation before Matt had tried his clothes on so I tried to imprint in her mind how much I like the suit she made for me. Matt’s suits were terrible as well. They hadn’t sewn the seams together straight so the fabric was puckering. The shoulders were too wide. We had a few arguments about what was the right fit and she finally agreed to try and fix it. I was pretty sure that the dress was beyond fixing but kept my mouth shut. It couldn’t stay shut forever. The next fitting I told her that I wanted to abandon it as she couldn’t get it right without putting more money into which I wasn’t willing to do. The suits were beyond fixing and Matt and I were trying to figure out a way in which we could get the clothes that we were happy with and leave the rest. It didn’t go so well. She took our clothes hostage and hid them in her house, then called about 4 men over to the shop to push Matt around. I was furious. She wouldn’t give us any of the clothes unless we paid the outstanding amount which would have made my little suit cost more than a designer one bought in Melbourne. I had to go and make sure the clothes that we did have in our possession were shipped properly. So against my better judgment I left Matt there.
We had to catch a bus to Hue as we had a flight to Hanoi the next morning so we were on huge time restraints. This woman knew this and just would not budge. It was shit. I got everything packed and was waiting for Matt to come back. Another shop owner had advised us to make a police report but we were out of time. We had to leave it. I was enquiring how much it would be to get a bike to take me up to Hue a bit later but it was too much and just didn’t make sense to split up. Matt was literally forcing the bus driver to keep the doors of the bus open by standing in them when I ran up to the bus. I got a dirty look as I got on but at least we were on our way. A very expensive lesson learnt.
It wasn’t the nicest way to finish up in Hoi An but I truly loved it there and would go back any day. The majority of the people were beautiful and the town itself is stunning!! Tuey was truly the highlight of my time in Hoi An (well her and the sheer beauty of the place). She was incredibly generous and kind hearted. I would even make it to the beach next time which is something I really regret not doing.
The pictures that will eventually get put up (Loading them takes soo long with the internet connections that we get here) to go with this blog will show the town in a completely different light to the blog. Sorry I rambled!!!!!