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Published: March 5th 2007
Our next stop was Hoi An, the town of tailor's. We took a grueling 18 hour bus trip down the coast. My one complaint about Vietnam is that the bus service is terrible. It is completely disorganized and the operator's are extremely rude and unhelpful. If anyone is thinking about traveling in Vietnam I would seriously suggest booking flights ahead of time. Maybe it was just because of New Years but all trains, planes and many buses were fully booked for days. At one point we were so fed up with the service that we organized a private 24 passenger bus for 12 of us to take for the last 3 hours of our journey to Hoi An, only $7.50 US per person. At least the prices meant we could stay flexible.
We arrived at Hoi An and were relieved to find a beautiful hotel (actually more like a resort), the Phu Thinh II, complete with a swimming pool with a fully loaded 3 person room for only $25.
The day after we arrived, Celia, April, Ted and I started visiting various tailor shops. Over the next four days we were lured into 3 separate shops. Each shot has
displays spewing out their doors and the prices are so good it's extremely hard to resist. We just kept seeing more and more that we liked and adding to the list. Suits, dresses, skirts, shirts, tank tops, jackets...you name it, they make it. There are hundreds of tailor shops around and it's impossible to know how to choose. We had a few that came recommended but eventually we settled for the ones that had the most helpful employees. We spent 4 days running between shops to make our various fitting times as these poor people kept sending our clothing back to get it just right. Well, not everything came out exactly as we wanted...but for the price we were paying, how much could we really ask? We had some great fun. Ted went nuts! He works as an economist for KPMG and has to wear a suit to work. Everyday he changed his mind and added one more suit to the list, for a total of 4 suits. These tailors really know how to whip them up. One morning Ted added one more suit to the list and 4 hours later he was in fitting for the final touches. The
poor guy though, he had 3 girls on him telling him what material to chose and each time we unknowingly picked the most expensive one. Leave it up to the girls!
The tailor's in this city work harder than anyone I know. They get very little sleep and spend their lives catering to tourists who demand that things be made in almost no time at all because they are all "just passing through". Even the girls in the shop who take care of the fittings and orders work 7 days a week and often 15 hour days.
After four days of zooming around the city on our ghetto fluorescent pink and green bikes (with baskets and all), we felt and acted like the locals. Competing with the motorbikes was a piece of cake as we learned how to cut people off and maneuver around them in markets and little alleyways.
When we weren't being princesses getting things fitting, we were lazing by the pool or on the beach. On our one beach day we found a quiet spot far from anyone else so we wouldn't be disturbed. We soon learned that was pointless because they come to
you in Vietnam! It wasn't long before we were surrounded by 6 women; one selling food, one jewelry and the other 4 crowding around Celia threading her legs. Ok, so we were princesses everywhere in Hoi An.
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