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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 154: Shopping in Hoi An

VIETNAM | Monday, 7 April 2008 | Views [631]

Protected building in Hoi An

Protected building in Hoi An

Monday 7th April

Hoi An seemed like a pleasant place to stay and there seemed to be a fair deal going on there. I got up around 09.00 and had a leisurely breakfast of more fried eggs. The guesthouse receptionist had recommended a clothes shop out of the two hundred or so shops in this town of a few thousand people, and so I called into the stylishly named 'Impressions Boutique' to see what they could do for me. It was a different set-up to what you might get at home – none of the 'suits you' campness at least – and it was all go with assistants running around measuring up western tourists.

I am a really bad shopper, quite fussy with what I will wear, and usually can't get clothes to fit me properly at home. I got talking to the owner of the shop, a chirpy and very persuasive girl who talked me into ordering a suit and several shirts. I liked the idea of wearing made-to-measure clothes and the prices made it all the more appealing.

After about an hour of getting measured up, choosing material and resisting the temptation – and sales pitch of the shop assistants – to buy more. I went for some lunch, happy that my wardrobe would be better off and a chore that I would have to face up to when I got home was now off the agenda for a considerable time. As I ate my noodles, I could see the tailor shop in the building opposite getting to work on my order. Many of these young guys come from disadvantaged backgrounds, people who learn their skills in schools and produce huge quantities of clothes.

In the early evening, I bought a ticket to visit some of the preserved buildings around the old town. A ticket for 70,000D gives you entry to a number of museums and listed buildings which provide tourists with an insight into this once important trading hub, its inhabitants coming from far and wide. Over the years it has been home to the Chinese, Japanese and French, and all of these influences have been represented through the architecture and artefacts recovered from the houses and streets of the town. It is the presence of China that is most prevalent, and it seems that Vietnam has been particularly shaped (and resisted) by China over the course of its history.

Despite the quaintness of the town, it is difficult to avoid the commercial aspect of life here: apart from the clothes shops, arts and crafts stores line the streets in the old-fashioned buildings. There are many nice things on offer in Hoi An, and it would be easy to spend a lot of money here. The shop assistants are also very persuasive whenever you show even the slightest sign of interest in buying something, so they really will pounce on any sign of weakness!

Later in the evening, I went back to the 'Impressions Boutique' to try on the clothes that I had chosen earlier in the day, just to see whether they needed to be altered or not. They all looked so good, that I ordered another suit, sure that all of this was too good an opportunity not to take advantage of... it was going to save me money in the long run.

I had dinner at a rather impressive joint called 'The Mango Rooms' and I had a red snapper and noodle dish that was very tasty indeed, if a bit more expensive than the average meal. There are many good places to eat in Hoi An, and all reasonably priced. The town is very relaxing at night, quite atmospheric and a good place just to wander about. Satisfied with how the day had gone, I headed back to the hotel for the night and got some rest.


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