2 motocycle drivers met us off the bus with a sign saying 'Christ', I guess I have been called a lot worse! The hotel was ready for us so we had a quick shower before hitting the streets to find some breakfast. Hoi An had been hit by a tornado a few weeks previously, apart from the sand all over roads there were no tell tale signs that most of town had been underwater. We found a little cafe down near the river to eat and afterwards strolled alongside the pretty water to the Japanese Bridge. The old town here is famous around Vietnam (it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and is certainly very picturesque with old colonial buildings fronting narrow streets. Another reason why Hoi An is famous is for all the clothes tailors there is here - it is said there are over 400 shops! We visited one that our hotel recommended and checked out some catalogues for some ideas
. Cesca was unsure of what she wanted so I stepped up and agreed a good deal on a suit and fitted shirt combo. Once I had chosen fabrics with the aid of my little female assistant it was time for the measuring. On a piece of graph paper she quickly freehandedly drew what I wanted (including everything down to trouser style, shirt cuffs and jacket buttons). Then she whipped out her tape and had a go at pretty much every single angle of me shouting out numbers whilst another girl struggled to note them down. Then as quickly as it started it was done and we were told to return tomorrow morning (about 16 hrs later) for a full fitting. After a nanna nap we ventured out into town for some dinner before returning to bed again - these night buses make you tired!
Thursday 15th October - Hoi An
It was with some trepidation that we returned to 'Impressions' (our tailor of choice) for my suit fitting this morning. There was no need though as they had done a fantastic job first time - everything fit like a dream. Suitably encouraged by my success and after doing some research last night on the internet for some designs she liked, Cesca launched into improving her wardrobe. In the end she modified the design of a dress they had premade off the rack and then she gave them a print out of a dress she had found on the internet for them to copy
. A quick bit of choosing fabric and then some measuring tape work later and we were back on the streets. Unbelievably, we were due back in a few hours for a fitting so we busied ourselves with some shopping down at the market to help kill the time. After some protracted negotiations we ended up with a couple of vases and a lacquer bowl all of which we had first seen in HCMC and liked since. As we wandered the streets we bumped into Jasmin and Tams (from London) who we had met in the mud baths of Nha Trang. They told us about a silk factory where you could visit and see the whole production process. We followed there advice and enjoyed seeing the different stages including; the baby silk worms; the silk thread being weaved; the dying process; the ladies sewing and weaving and then finally the finished articles (although the price put us off buying!). Back at 'Impressions' it was Cesca's turn to enter the changing room a dirty traveller and come out all glamourous. The first dress she ordered turned out perfectly but the one they copied from the internet needed a few alterations. The lady got the chalk out and marked what we wanted as it was on Cesca and then it was rushed off back to the production area (or sweat shop?). For dinner we visited a restaurant called Laugh that we had read about on the internet - they employ underprivaledged young people and train them using food as an educational tool so that they have some skills.
Friday 16th October - Hoi An
Back at 'Impressions' this morning we were hoping for a better result with the altered dress
. Fortunately it fit much better and looked much more like the dress that Cesca had picked out from the internet. After paying up and saying a final goodbye to our now very good friends at the tailors we headed back to the hotel to colate all our gifts. On the way we added a few more things as Cesca found a winter coat at a bargain price and then a pair of boots that we managed to knock down too! With so much stuff we decided that we needed to post a box home to NZ so headed back to the hotel to colate it all. On the way out of the hotel with arms full of stuff, the receptionist nosily asked 'where are you going?' When we replied she told us there was no need as if you ring them then they come to you!! As we had the boots to be picked up from a last minute polish we couldn't make use of this unique service and so instead did it the old fashioned way actually at the building. It turned out to be a pretty reasonable cost for the slow service - although at 4 months we will get home before it does. Again for dinner we found a trainee restaurant doing the same thing as Laugh. This one lured us in with a free beer offer - the food turned out to be magnificient. Afterwards we headed down to the riverside to take some snapshots, this area is really beautiful in the dark with the colourful lanterns throwing light over the old buildings. Then it was back home for an early night as tomorrow we are taking the bus further north up the coast to Hue.