We made it to the unique town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage town with old architecture that was not bombed during Vietnam’s turbulent past. The other great thing is that as a UNESCO designated town, the local government has restricted vehicle access in the historic quarter. The result is a very nice town that has become a mecca for tourists coming to visit the town and the many tailors that thrive on the steady stream of tourists.
We shopped around for a tailor but then met up with some French-Canadians we met in Hanoi, and they recommended one shop, Mekong Tailors, they had just been to for some great clothes. We spent one day here looking over fabrics, options and styles and then getting measured. We came back the next day to see how well the clothes fit (very well) and order some more. And then bought more the next day.
We enjoyed getting our clothes from Phuc and Van (Mekong Tailors) and all the excellent fancy clothing they made for us. They say they will keep our measurements and so we can buy clothing from them in the future over the internet. We are sending home a large box of custom made clothing. Jason bought two new suits (wool/cashmere) and some silk/cotton custom fitted shirts for when we eventually return and get real jobs. Alexa also bought work suits, about 3 jackets ($30 – $45), 3 blazers, 2 dresses, some shirts and a bathing suit, most items cost between $10 for a cotton shirt to $25 for a lined blazer. The custom wool Cashmere suits cost $65 (although the three piece suit cost $85), and the silk/cotton custom shirts cost $12. It will cost us about $50 to ship all these clothes home.
The people here in Hoi An had a big typhoon about two weeks ago, and many shops and buildings along the riverfront were flooded. But the people here are resilient and pro-active. They cleaned the city and opened for business so quickly that we can hardly even tell that there was a typhoon just a few days ago. Well, except one restaurant has a mark on the wall where the flood waters reached. Most of the shop owners will tell you how high the water was. But flooding is fairly common here, so they take the goods up to the second floor, clean up when the flood waters recede, and then re-open. They don’t wait around for aid agencies or the government, they just take care of themselves. Now that we are away from the main cities, the people driving here are much more sane when compared to those in China or Hanoi (we even see people signaling before turning) and everyone in Vietnam is required to wear a helmet while driving a scooter (and they even comply!). The traffic here is much less frantic and makes for a much more relaxed experience.
While we were here, we experienced some of the downpours, and the streets quickly filled with water and the river began to creep into the streets nearby. No typhoons or flooding, just the standard rain for the Vietnamese rainy season.
We did a cooking class here as well, and learned to make spring rolls, lemon grass fish and a papaya salad. We ate all our dishes and they were excellent. We met up with some friends Sam and Laura we met in China and feasted at a great place run by this awesome old lady who had this crazy laugh. She was really sweet and made cheap, and good food right near our hotel.
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