– A city of tailors
The three of us slept very well during our first night in Hoi an as we were exhausted from the odyssey that we had undergone the day before. When we woke up we had the pleasant surprise of finding two school friends, Adam and Archie, waiting in our homestay lobby.
This was of course not by accident but a organised meet up, our friends are travelling north so we knew that we would cross paths at some point. Once we had a lovely breakfast we started walking through the town looking for tailors as Hoi An is known for that craft. The town is magical and beautiful, roads lined by green trees go through orange buildings dating back to French administration. The roads are overhung with yellow and orange lanterns hanging from above and communists/Vietnamese flags on the side.
We walked past many tailors, their walls full of silks and other such materials and also many leather shops in which you can get custom shoes, handbags or coats. We had a look at a few tailors and decided to get ourselves a tailored suit. The hard part was deciding what materials to go for, in the end I went for a light blue with a bright inner lining. After they took many measurements we were told to come back tomorrow to see if they fit. In the evening I decided to go walk to the beach. The road to the beach took me past a beautiful river which was lined by coconut trees on one side and rice paddies on the other. Eventually I made it to the beach and I strolled north for a while looking at a group of islands on the horizon. The walk back took me a ‘bit’ longer as I got lost but I was able to view a stunning sunset over the rice fields and the river. Seeing the traditional fishing boats floating in the orange light next to the rice paddies made the longer walk worth it. In total the little walk to the beach and back took me two hours.
In hoi an we discovered something we had not yet encountered, the legendary Bahn Mi. The Bahn Mi is a legacy of French influence on Vietnamese culture. It is a baguette filled with meat (mostly beef or chicken) vegetables and many sauces. We quickly grew very fond of these and had them at least once a day. As evidence of french colonial administration gets stronger the further south you go, so do the Bahn Mi shop frequency increases and their products in taste.
The nights where usually spend in a hotel that offered unlimited drinks for two hours, and at night we saw something we had not seen yet, that being completely empty roads (cities like Bangkok or Hanoi never sleep). One evening we met up with the older brother of one of our mates who was working in Da Nang (something in renewable energy). It was interesting to hear him discuss the pros and cons of working in Vietnam (the latter mainly being the corruption). Also we found several bars that sold beers for 3000 VND which is about 10cent.
During the days we would often rent bikes and cycle through the town or down to the beach. One day near the end of our stay there I went back to the tailor to pick up the last items I had purchased there and decided to visit the old town. This area was closed to motorised vehicles and full of pedestrians, both locals and a fair amount of tourists. The old town was full of beautiful pale yellow colonial buildings, all of which had paint crumbling of their walls, however that only added to their charm. These buildings also usually had this green plant growing on them with intense purple flowers. In these shops you could find many things, from leather products to colourful spices, from silks and fine cloths to fake Adidas and Nike shirts. As I continued my bike ride trough this part of town I reached the river on which there where many long wooden boats with ladies in rice hats slowly gliding above the sunset dyed calm waters. The river was lined by the colonial style buildings, Chinese lanterns and tall trees. Crossing the river was made possible by a very old bridge which separated the Chinese and Japanese districts. As it was getting darker I decided to head back along the river. I cycled through a market full of fruit I have never seen before and big strange looking fish gazing at me with their big eyes from the piles of ice they where kept on. My way back took a bit longer than it should have as I got lost again which I did not mind however as I was cycling through peaceful rice fields as the sun was setting.
A day after we first went to the tailor we came back to check if our suits needed any readjustments, the ones that needed readjustment where told to come back the next day. After all of us where satisfied we had our suits packed up and put in a parcel for sea shipping (they should arrive in 3 months).
Saying goodbye to Hoi An was hard as our room and home stay had been amazing, and the town was magical. From the windows of the bus we had one last look at Hoi An before heading south on the road to Nha Thrang.