*** All images taken with Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 lens ***
Hoi An is a great place to do some shopping and have a few things made. There are 300+ tailors in this town, plus shoe and bag artisans, and jewellers. It’s a minefield in terms of choosing who to go with, although many of the tailors will use a central sewing operation so your final choice may not necessarily matter. While I was there I had the following made: a couple of men’s and ladies shirts, a pair of leather shoes, a leather bag and several silver jewellery pieces. I was happy with the jewellery. They managed to produce some nice designs styled from examples I showed them. The clothes, shoes and bag are fine, but not as well finished as you’d get from a store. From what I’ve heard from other travellers, they are better at direct copies so if you have a favourite pair of shoes you could bring them along and get a copy done, but this isn’t exactly practical. And the quality of the soles aren’t nearly as good as my lovely Italian leather flats that I wanted copied, but for $35 I’m sure they’ll be fine for casuals.
My big tip would be to check the quality of all the finishing items such as soles, buckles, buttons, zips, clips etc before you start talking about fabrics/leathers and designs. This will save you some time…and it takes a LOT of time. Each day I did a circuit of the tailor, the jeweller and the shoe & bag maker to check on progress and manage quality control. I spent 5 days on this, and it was certainly needed. Those people who get things made in 24 hours are certainly taking a quality risk in my opinion.
Aside from the shopping, Hoi An is a foodies’ delight. I was eating on the street, in the alleyways, in the market, on the beach, and in lovely cafes and restaurants, and I never had a bad meal experience. The Vietnamese really now how to balance flavours, and one of my most memorable meals was a chicken and green mango salad eaten in an alleyway at night sitting on a child-sized red plastic stool. It was fresh and bursting with flavour…and I could care less that everything was sitting out in the open and the lady prepared the dish with her un-gloved hands. The fact that she managed the money and food with barely a hand-wipe on her grotty towel in between actions also didn’t phase me…lucky my e-coli and salmonella jabs are up-to-date ;)
The rest of my Hoi An experience was a mix of wandering aimlessly through the old town and visiting the fishing and pottery villages nearby with my new-found photographer friend, Mr Kiet. I also visited the ancient Cham ruins of My Son (pr. Mee Son)...and they would have been impressive in their heyday, but you need to use your imagination now. They look very similar to a lot of the ancient Indian cities with mortar-less brick buildings of the same architectural style.
The following slideshow is a medley of my time there in no particular order.
I've never been to Vietnam -so gutted I couln't have joined you. Great photos!
You really captured the true feeling of Vietnam
I so miss this place...will defiantly need to go back
Again. Thank you for sharing your experience
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