Tailor made treats in Hoi An

When I woke up this morning I was rather relieved to find myself in a nice comfortable hotel bed, having managed to get around six hours sleep, as opposed to on a sandy beach, thoroughly knackered, surrounded by random strangers and covered in mosquito bites. So, in hindsight, I was pleased I’d made the decision to come home with the others, despite my stubborn determination to party until dawn.

Pill and I ate breakfast at Cafe Amis before burning to a crisp on a very windy beach. Pill forgot to put sunscreen on her arms and ended up with a couple of limbs almost the same colour as the meat hanging up in the market! After a whole afternoon of achieving nothing constructive, we ironically found ourselves running around at the last minute to get cash and food before our night bus to Hoi An left at 6:30pm. Sam, Emma, Tasha and Neil were also on the bus, as was Rob, a Brentford fan from Uxbridge who we chatted to until the seven of us fell into some degree of semi-consciousness, which in my case could be loosely described as sleep for around two hours of the journey.

When we arrived in Hoi An about 12 hours later all I wanted to to was go to bed. However, after being hassled by moto drivers (2 of whom blatantly lied to us about the price of a hotel room in order to obtain their commission from the hotel) I decided to ride out the desire to sleep and simply get an early night later on this evening. So the seven of us checked into a couple of rooms at the Hoi Pho Hotel and ate breakfast at the cafe next door. The power was out (and remained out all day as it happened) so our choice of food was limited to what didn’t require cooking, hence we ate very healthy breakfasts of fruit, yoghurt and museli, accompanied by some strong coffee to keep us awake.

Hoi An is famous for the quality and quantity of tailor-made garments produced here. Almost every other shop along the quaint streets of the old town is a virtual treasure trove, with fabric of every colour and variety stacked to the ceilings inside. Garments can be made to measure in a matter of hours and for little over the cost of the material itself. With these facts in mind, we all (including the men!) decided to throw our backpacker budgets out the window and treat ourselves to a few items of clothing during our stay in Hoi An.

Choosing a tailor is not an easy task and it’s a decision that’s often made based upon the fabric that’s available inside the shops, the designs you see in their magazines, or simply when a garment on one of the manequins outside catches your eye. Between us we chose a number of different tailors, but the one which stood out solely from our initial consultation (as this is all we were able to do today) was Phuong Nam, just left of the entrance to the Central Market. It’s a family business and the girls appeared to be a lot more attentive, patient and friendly than many of the other outlets we visited. Moreover, the measurements they took in preparation were more detailed and seemed to be more presise. Tasha and Emma were both measured for dresses here and I was measured for a top and a skirt, which I wanted to look like a dress when worn together. Depending on the tailor and whether or not you want your garment lined, a pair of trousers will normally cost between $12 and $15, a dress between $15 and $20, and a suit between $40 and $50.

In the evening we wandered around the quaint streets of the old town, beautifully lit by the colourful glow from the lanterns hanging up just inside the shop doors. We ate at Bo Bo’s Restaurant, a small and very cheap (by Vietnamese standards) eatery along Le Loi. We all sampled the local Cao Lao (doughy flat noodles mixed with greens, beansprouts and croutons, and topped with pork slices (vegetarians get tomatoes and carrots instead) and crumbled rice paper, and served with soy sauce). It received mixed responses from us all but I liked it, and at 8000VND it’s always going to be the cheapest meal on the menu.

We finished up enjoying beer Larue in fancy pint glasses at Tam Tam Cafe, and despite our good intentions of retiring early, we arrived back at our hotel just before midnight.

Photo is of some colourful lanterns which were being made at the handicraft workshop, Hoi An.


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