Made to Measure

17 Feb
Biycles in Hoi An, Vietnam

Biycles in Hoi An, Vietnam

I splurged. I couldn’t help myself. Just one more thing!! Ah!

Custom clothing in Vietnam is a treat. Stefanie and I spent the last few days running around the old town of Hoi An going to fittings and stopping for lunch in between. It was tiring, but really fun. When will I ever have the opportunity to choose my fabric, design the style and fit ever again? Why not pick up a few items… or several. There are over 400 tailors in Hoi An – a population of 90,000 people. In other words – fierce competition and cheap prices.

After 3 days, I walked away with a custom cashmere blazer and high waisted skirt with silk lining, a long wool peacoat, two summer dresses, one silk chiffon dress with silk shawl and brown leather riding boots. One minute, I’m trying on the piece and the second it’s whisked away on a motorcycle to have the changes made. “Come back in three hours!” they tell you and the PRESTO! It’s completed. Of course, you may need it altered several times but it’s practically a 24 hour turn around. The price was right too. I bought things made to measure for a third of the price it would cost me in Canada.

Aside from shopping, Hoi An is a beautiful little town. The old quarter is brimming with one story, yellow facades with old wooden shutters. It was great to see some older architecture. There were a lot of Chinese who settled in Hoi An – creating an interesting blend in styles and food. There is also a ‘walking zone’ where only pedestrians and bikes can pass through – which made the area surprisingly quiet. I could hardly here a motorcycle engine – a rare treat in South East Asia.

Lucky for us, our last night in Hoi An fell on the 14th day of the lunar month, which means loads of LANTERNS 🙂 Most of the shops and restaurants in the old quarter turned their lights off and depended only on table top candles and Chinese paper lanters hanging in the streets. It was very dark and quiet romantic, despite the surge of people. You can buy floating paper lanterns and set them out on the river for good luck. Of course, mine just got stuck behind a small wooden boat.

We are now in Hue, Vietnam – a few hours north of Hoi An. There is an old citadel which was once an Imperial city. We are heading out tomorrow morning to have a gander. It should take a few hours to explore and then we are taking a night bus all the way to Hanoi – Vietnam’s capital. I think it’s about 12-14 hours… excellent! The sleeping buses are not up to par with the ones in South America. Here, the bus has bunk-bed style reclining lounge chairs – with very little cushioning and are way too short. There is very little aisle space and you are either sleeping virtually on the ground, or climbing up someone else’s bunk to reach your own. I suppose it’s because Asians are typically smaller than Europeans/North Americans.

The weather is becoming significantly worse the further we travel north. More rain and definitely cooler. The only reason why we are traveling such a long distance to Hanoi is because we want to visit Halong Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s actually three hours from Hanoi. I’m really excited to take an overnight boat trip and see the limestone caves and cliffs myself – but I hope the weather cooperates. If it’s miserable outside – we might skip it and that would be a huge disappointment. We are just taking it day by day and hoping it doesn’t rain too much.

I’ll write soon from Hanoi! If everything goes according to plan (which it often never does), we should be in Vietnam for another 5 days and then off to Laos. I can’t believe there are only three weeks left AND we have to make it all the way back to Bangkok. Yikes!

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