Monday, April 12, 2010

Hoi An: A Tailor-made Town

Hoi An is one of our favorite spots so far on this journey.  The old town's pedestrian only streets are breathtaking with their old french colonial buildings, canals, and the classical music playing through the town's sound system.  The town used to be a major trading port for the French, but today the town is known for it's tailors.  Because of the size of our backpacks and our budget we did not think we would be purchasing any new clothing,  but after peering into the hundreds of tailor shops with beautiful wool coats, silk dress, and handmade suits we thought we might reconsider.

The Tailors
There are hundreds to chose from and their motos are "why not?'" and '"no problem""  when discussing what they can tailor fit for you.  We looked in several of the shops before deciding on the place for us.  The women were smiley, chatty, and confident in their work.  Courtney ended up getting four dresses and a raincoat made for next to nothing.  She felt like a celebrity flipping through endless catalogs of beautiful clothing.  Lee was not left out of the fun and got two work shirts and three casual shirts tailor fitted to perfection.  It was a lot of fun and cheap!  The best part is you design the clothing one day and the next morning you go for your fitting.  You can't get service like that in the Western world!

The Food
Hoi An also had delicious food.  When we arrived the hotel staff told us to try two traditional dishes: Cau Lau and White rose.  Cau Lau is a noodle dish with fresh greens and is usually served with pork medallions.  White rose is a steamed dumpling stuffed with shrimp and vegetables.  We were hooked and ordered these dishes in almost every restaurant!  Another one of our favorite Vietnamese dishes was the country pancake.  Our waitress taught us how to wrap the crispy pancake in rice paper after she laughed at Courtney for eating it incorrectly!  Lee was happy because beers in Hoi An were about .40 cents and Courtney was happy because dinner never cost us more than $4!

Cua Dai Beach
We decided to rent bicycles and ride to the beach which is located 4 KM outside of the town center.  We rented them from the neighbor of the hotel for .70 cents each for the whole day.  The beach was beautiful even though it was not the sunniest of days.  We relaxed and took naps.  Courtney always feels a bit awkward in her bikini because the women in Vietnam do not show their body.  They strive to have white, pure skin so they wear long pants and long sleeves to the beach and even swim in their clothes.  Courtney and some of the local women joked that they should trade skin!

Reunited At Last
We caught up with Kate, Lizzie, and Kate's sister Claire in Hoi An as well!  We spent the first night trading stories of our travels since we left them in Australia.  It was really nice to see some familiar faces.

During dinner we were approached by a older woman selling peanuts which Claire decided to buy.  We chatted with the lady for a few minutes and thought nothing of the situation.  Again and again Claire ran into this woman around town over the next couple of days.  The woman kept saying how kind Claire was and invited us to her house for tea.  We accepted the invitation and the five us of went for tea a couple hours before catching our bus out of town.  We traded stories about life and met her family.  The Vietnamese people believe it is good luck to welcome others into their home.  It was a really interesting experience even though we were flipping through phrase books to help with the conversation.

My Son
We decided to take a day trip to My Son, ruins located 35 KM outside of the town.  It was a religious center built in the late 4th century and occupied until the 13th century.  Today it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


  1. Great post!!! We can have great fun at Hoi An...very lovely place....

    Tailor-Made Days Out

  2. I think I may have read a post incorrectly....did you say Lee got two WORK shirts?? What's up with that Mr. Senior??

  3. Davida - Just in case I decide to get a job some point.