Hoi An was the third city we visited in Vietnam. Although there are a lot of tourists there, Hoi An has retained it’s sleepy charm and was a delightful small city to visit. Hoi An is located up a river just off the coast, so it is near beaches and the beautiful river runs right through the gorgeous, historic Old Town. Another fun fact about Hoi An is that it shares exactly the same letters with Hanoi, just arranged differently!
Hoi An is most famous for its tailors. There are literally hundreds of them in town, and they are known for their ability to churn out high quality custom suits in less than 24 hours. Because of the exceptionally cheap price, Zak and I had some clothes made at Mr. Xe’s tailor shop. We went through 3 or 4 fittings each. There was no air conditioning in the shop, and even though here were several fans pointed at your already sticky, sweaty self, it was absurdly hot and humid. This atmosphere made it very difficult to try on clothes. Let me just tell you that pulling pencils skirts over sweaty thighs is not easy and requires the perfect combination of strength and finesse. I really felt more sorry for Zak however, as he had to put on pants, long sleeve shirts and a suit jacket before being turned around, picked at and fretted over by Mr. Xe and his flock of women trying to evaluate the perfection of item.
After many fittings, one in which Zak had to walk several blocks in his suit ( this is where the title of this post comes from), we finally had finished products. Zak had a suit, two button down shirts and a silk tie, while I had two pencil skirts and a suit dress. All that for $250 made us feel pretty successful and much more ready to look the part in the big city. As of now, I’d highly recommend Mr. Xe’s shop, but the real test will be to see if those items are still holding up strongly in a year.
Other than going to fittings, we did a lot of biking in Hoi An. Our hotel gave is free bikes, and it was a great way to get around. We enjoyed going to the beach one day and soaking up the sun and emerald green water. I think I’ve been in Asia too long now, because I sat in the shade most of the time and applied liberal amounts of SPF 55.
We are banh my (pronounced me) sandwiches every day of our visit there. Banh my is a legacy of the French in Vietnam and it is delicious. It is a sandwich traditionally on a small roasted baguette with pate, grilled pork belly, cheese, green onion and other deliciousness. A woman in Hoi An was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s TV and she might have made the best meal I had in all of Vietnam. We added fried egg to our sandwiches and extra chili sauce for extra flavor. These sandwiches only cost us $1.25 a piece and they were extremely filling. By our last day, she recognized us and knew exactly what our order was, which I count as a small tourist victory.
I could write more about the Old Town, but all you need to know is that it’s beautiful and historic, crowded with locals and tourists alike. We visited some temples and old houses, which were beautiful. We then flew to Saigon to enjoy our last few days in Vietnam.