Busting the budget...tailor-made in Hoi An
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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Our fourteenth overnight train ride of the trip took us from Nha Trang north to the city of Danang. Although the rocking motion of a train usually puts me right to sleep, I think Katie has come pretty close to reaching her limit on night trains. The bleary eyes, messed up hair and shell-shocked look that persists for about five or six hours after disembarking are leading me to believe that many more of these rail journeys will put her over the edge! Anyway at least a quick cab ride from the railway station brought us to Hoi An, a place that when I visited a few years ago I figured would be a pretty close approximation of Katie's heaven. Hoi An is a wonderful historic city with cobblestone streets lined with tons of well-preserved temples, ancient clan meeting houses, historic shop houses and is really close to a nice beach. I didn't think Katie would fall in love this town for its history though
The 400+ tailor shops and 50+ shoemakers in this town are certainly the staple of the local economy. After only one afternoon of shopping, we patronized enough of them so Katie actually had to start taking notes on what she was having made in each place! But hey, even me, the shopping curmudgeon, got a few items. I had two silk suits, three shirts and a wool winter jacket custom made to my measurements all for only $160! Don't even ask me what Katie ended up getting...but I know it was at least thirty different items. She just kept saying, "I know we are spending a lot more than we planned, but just think of how much we are saving!" Hmmm...we have to get out of here soon or we'll go broke saving so much money.
Well, we finally got ripped-off with what seems to be a common scam here in Vietnam. When purchasing train tickets from a travel agent, tourists often request (and pay for) the highest class of service, the agents then purchase a lower class and keep the extra money, and you don't figure it out until you are already on the train and out of the picture
Hoi An is a cute town with historic shop houses and nice cafes and restaurants all set around a river. One of the traditional handicrafts here is lantern making, so at night it is quite romantic along the canal with all the colorful lights. But the major "handicraft" here is tailor-made clothing for incredibly low prices. I did go a little crazy with all the clothing making however, and ended up having 5 different tailor shops making different pieces at the same time. It did get a bit confusing as to what was being made where, and all of the fitting and refitting appointments completely filled two full days. But, I did manage to get 2 suits, 3 dresses, 3 jackets, 5 pairs of pants, 6 skirts, and 9 shirts, 1 pair of shorts for about $400! We shipped all of these purchases home through the Vietnamese Postal Service very cheaply, and it is supposed to show up sometime in the next 3 months....hopefully it will beat us back to the USA, or at least show up!