M – Next stop Hoi An. I thought Hoi An was an odd place. At first I really wasn’t sure about it. It is has a lot of tourists and is quite twee. I was really expecting to want to leave after a night but it grew on me. Rather like Antigua (Guatemala) you have the western tourist necessities on offer but it is pretty easy to wander off the track just a little and before you know it be amongst the locals.
Hoi An is 4km from the coast and on the river. Virtually every other shop in Hoi An is a tailors or shoemakers. Whatever you want to wear they can make it. Turn up with a few photos of your favorite item of clothing or a designer dress/shirt and they will produce a first cut within a day and tailor it to fit you for a fraction of the price in another day or two. For two slightly outsized people, Kate too tall and thin for the US and me too wide/fat etc etc, it was an opportunity worth trying. After a days where they made about a dozen items, we then spent a couple of days
getting them adjusted to fit perfectly. We ended up with some basics such as shirts, jackets & Trousers and a couple of rips–offs of designer shirts/tops for Kate. One of which would have cost 100X what we actually paid for it. She can spill red wine on this one and I won't wince though!
Our tip, I don’t come here to by a work shirt, focus on the luxury type items that you won’t wear that much but would cost you a fortune and be prepared to go back for a couple of fittings and make sure it fits. Alternatively bring your favorite item that you have worn out and get them to copy it. We bought several items and actually rejected one as they just couldn’t get it right. Both sides were happy though and our stuff is in the post back home. Hopefully it will arrive!
Next stop Nha Trang. We used this as an overnight stop before heading up into the hill to Dalat. Nha Trang is a decent sized city right on the beach. I suspect Nha Trang looks a little like North Miami Beach did 30 years ago. Not an idyllic beach hang
out but not exactly a horrible place to chill for a day either. Functional and fun.
Dalat – this is one of the places Kate visited on her trip 12 years ago. This probably wins the prize for the most changed town/city in her view. She really couldn’t get over how built up Dalat had become since her last trip. People go to Dalat to explore the surrounding countryside and the waterfalls. To be honest they were ok but really not worth a 4 hour each way from the coast. If you have visited hill towns elsewhere I wouldn’t bother unless you like trawling the market for good food. I would go to Don Hoi and make a trip to the caves instead. We rented our own motor-scooter and enjoyed the independence of travelling around under our own steam. The highlight though, and the reason for my comment above was the night market in the center of town. If you like scallops, whelks, cockles or similar you will be in heaven. They have stall after stall either BBQ’ing them or simmering them in curry or spicy coconut stall sauce. As you can probably tell from the photos I could
have stayed for days just sampling the food alone! Scroll/page down to enjoy the photos.
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