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Hoi An

VIETNAM | Saturday, 9 December 2006 | Views [1262] | Comments [2]



Well Hoi An definitely proved to be a recovery spot for us and we stayed for 8 days in the end, we did a lot of sleeping, a lot of shopping and made some important decisions.

We arrived at around 7pm and as we got off the bus we were instantly sorrounded by touts. 'You come my hotel' 'Only 7 dollar' 'Free Cocktail' shoving flyers under our noses and slagging each other off. This was to set the tone for the rest of our time in Hoi An. We were a bit overwhelmed but eventually decided to try out the one with a free pool for only 8 dollars a night, 'only 5 minute walk'. About 20 minutes later we arrived but it was 25 dollars a night. The moral - don't trust the touts. Luckily we found an equally good hotel which really was 8 dollars a night and had a free pool and free cocktails every night. We went out for a late dinner and a stroll with Marta and Patrycja, two lovely Polish girls we met on the bus. We made friends with the restuarant owner, a wonderful lady 7 months pregnant. At 9pm at night a few of the tailor shops and cobblers that Hoi An is so famous for were open and we did a specualtive browsing. We were drawn in by a lady called Moon who owned a tailor shop and we promised to 'think about it' and come back later, admittedly we were very attracted to the idea of getting clothes made to our design and measurement for next to nothing. But what we DID NOT KNOW was that we'd be walking past Moon's shop several times a day and basically had no choice in the matter and second that it would be such an effort by the end of it all.

The next day morning we met the girls bright and early (well, 10am) for a trip to the market. Once again we were accosted by offers of, 'you wanna buy something', 'hello! Buy tshirt?', 'You want manicure? Only 1 dollar', 'motorbike?', 'Come see my shop', 'look my menu' etc !  What a nightmare! But we kindly refused and carried on looking around the stalls. Once again, flattery did the trick on Gary and he was wooed by a little tailor called 'Forget-Me-Not'. She is an excellent character and talks in English proverbs ('A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' and 'oh, it's raining cats and dogs' and 'customer is golden'), she must have a book at home, but very sweet and earnest. Gary got a top quality suit made for him which he had been desiring the whole trip. It was funny watching him at the fittings as there wasn't a changing room just a sheet in the corner. The suit turned out really nice although at one fitting Gary tried to sit down (luckily) and nearly tore them open at the bum! We got them adjusted.

Unfortunately Deena's tailor experience wasn't as smooth sailing. Deena went to the same one as Marta and Patrycja, in fact the lady we had met the night before called 'Moon'. I ordered a bunch of stuff including a beatiful silk coat, some trousers copied and a vietnamese dress. A couple of days later it was ok, everything had turned out ok except the coat which was supposed to have been loose and flowing but they had made loose but fitted (ie too many sizes too big)SO they promised to get it sorted. However that evening Patrycja noticed on HER coat that they had stiched a coat pocket realy badly and went to complain, Gary went with her for support but it ended in a big fight with everyone and the tailors... and Deena was supposed to be going for a fitting in an hour. It was tense and the jacket STILL wasn't right. It was turning out to be more hassle than it was worth. In the end after several fittings Deena just gave up and settled on this coat that looked nothing like what she'd ordered!

BUT we were enjoying Hoi An and made some friends with shopkeepers and restaurant owners, particularly a lady who owned a bag shop with two cute little puppies. She was really nice and sold us snickers at nearly cost price! Hoi An is an easy laid-back place (which is what we really needed) more over our hotel was cheap and great what with the pool, friendly staff and free cocktails. Just as we were thinking about moving we met our next hurdle...

On the news we had heard about a typhoon which had hit Phillipines and people were starting to panic that it would come to Vietnam. Deena laughed it off, 'nha, we'll be fine'. But the next day it hit us! It was hard to sleep because of our window was loose in its frame and banged and rattled all night. And in the disorientation of sleep we weren't sure what was going on with all the howling and noise. Over the next few days we hid in the hotel, reading and going on the internet and watching the typhoon causing havoc on the roads, slowly Hoi An began to flood over. First the riverfront merged in with the river and then the street behind it was lost too! (We got some before and after shots) Ocassionally we donned our rain macs (which we thought we wouldn't have to use but were very necessarry in the end) and tried to walk around or search for an interesting place to eat, we inevitably got soaked, especially our shoes which got VERY squelchy.

We also had a lot of thinking time during this bad weather and after a lot of budget juggling, honesty and speaking to home we decided to come home early. Organising this took up a couple of days! (So we weren't bored, haha) and endless phone calls to Royal Jordanian airways. The result was that we had to buy new tickets, but that was ok as it would still work out cheaper than staying and in our hearts we were ready to come home. We're just not taking it in anymore and want to compete the journey at another time when we'll appreciate it again. Because tickets get really expensive around christmas time we booked for the 12th of Decemeber, so one a half months left was reduced to 8 days!

We embraced the holiday with renewed vigour and went out in the rain doing some unexpected christmas shopping. Deena got duped into signing up for a 'quick' 1 dollar maniqure. The Polish girls had done this and their nails turned out lovely. Unfortunately Deena's nails ended up looking pretty much the same and captured and alone in the lady's beauticians 'booth' at the back of the market Deena got persuaded into a pedicure too (purely out of intimidation as she HATES her feet touched). NOT ONLY THAT  but the lady had a constant stream of friends selling their wares out of plastic bags to the new found captor and in the end she tried doubling her quoted price. This was the last straw and Deena paid the original price and ran away. Scary maniqure ladies!

In the end we decided we would have to move on from Hoi An, we booked our onwards bus journey and brought an extra bag because of all the extra things we had brought. We said goodbye and boarded the night bus to Nha Trang. We felt quite attached to the place and the hotel staff seemed quite attached to us (maybe because we were some of the only customers there during the typhoon, it was weird like a ghost hotel in a film!) and they all stood outside and waved us off.

Tags: Shopping



sounds like you have had quite an adventure since we met you! we have really enjoyed reading your travel diary, i will miss reading about your turbilant times! gary- let us know if you and your ice cream van are ever around our parts. have a good crimbo!
x x x x

  chloe and nick Dec 12, 2006 4:49 PM


In your article you mention the little tailor "Forget-Me-Not". I have some photos of her which your readers would enjoy. You can see them at:


  John Townsend Oct 6, 2008 6:51 AM

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Deena Gary Charlie and Dax in the garden in Colchester, Essex

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