Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hoi An

SATURDAY, 15th October

An Phu Hotel is very comfortable. The restaurant is on the roof, and we enjoyed a buffet breakfast in these gorgeous surroundings
The way the chef turned out an omelette had to be seen to be believed... she managed to roll it into a neat package, perfectly cooked, using chopsticks and tilting and tapping the fryingpan. Katie is busting to give it a try when we get home.

We went downstairs ready to join our day tour at 8.30am (in accordance with our itinerary) only to find we were half an hour late and missed it! The receptionist arranged for us to catch the tour tomorrow, so we headed out to explore Hoi An. This is our hotel from the street... nice, eh?
Hoi An is such a charming town, it is easy to see why it is so popular with the tourists. Everywhere we went there were foreigners walking or bicycling around taking it all in.


Most of the buildings are painted yellow and we didn't see many as tall as our hotel. Most are two story, with the family living over their shop.

Hoi An is famous for it's tailors,  silk clothes, shoe-makers and lantern-makers. Not only are the shops full of gorgeous stuff, the shopkeepers are friendly, but not too pushy.
We bought several silk scarves from this man. He was so helpful...

Everything seems so bright and colourful... even the paintings in this art gallery

As for shoes... they can be made overnight in any colour or style you choose

I bought Katie some pretty silver earrings from this jeweller

Around mid-morning, I phoned Hoa (Ian and Leslie's 'daughter') and introduced myself. She is a tailor and I assumed she would be in one of the many tailor's shops and we could get some clothes made, knowing we were dealing with someone excellent. Bless her heart, she gave us directions for where to meet her so we started walking back along the way we'd come. But street numbering is not in chronological order, so when we got to this place, we phoned her again... lost
 Turned out we were not far off, and she soon rode up on her motorbike and escorted us down a couple of back lanes to her house!

Her brothers are tailors, and they were busy working in the front room

These ladies were preparing green vegetables for the family lunch in the courtyard

Turns out Hoa is not tailoring these days. She's waitressing at one of the big hotels and today is her day off. When I phoned, she dropped what she was doing and made herself available to assist us however she could. Such kind hospitality extended to strangers is common in Vietnam. No wonder I love it here. Anyway, it was a very hot day, so Hoa took us into her kitchen and gave us a cold drink and some fruit and yoghurt to cool off.

Then she called a taxi and took us to a tailor who is a friend of hers. We chose fabrics and patterns and ordered two pairs of pants and a top for me, a pair of silk harem pants for Katie and some silk PJs for Gemma. They took lots of measurements and asked us to come back that evening. Hoa had asked us to join her for dinner, so we arranged to return for a fitting at 7.30pm... The tailor would be working till 11pm!
I didn't catch the name of the lass who looked after us, but she was lovely... and did an amazing job.

We made plans to meet Hoa at 6pm, then hit the streets of Hoi An again. But first we headed back to a restaurant we found earlier called The Bees Knees.  The food was delicious and the waitress spoke excellent English. This is me talking to Jordan. I had plenty of credit on my phone, so we used most of it talking to Lockie and the kids every day.
I ordered a beef salad, and Katie had duck and cashews... delicious...

So much to see...

We saw these fabulous heads on our Mekong tour, too.

This Museum of Folklore was worth a look. This 150 year old building was once a Chinese trading house.

We loved the colourful lanterns, and went nuts, buying six in various bright colours.

You can see the lantern makers at work as you walk around...

There is a famous covered bridge first built by the Japanese in the 1590s. It is very picturesque.

Even though we walked around for hours, we only saw a fraction of all there is

By the time we got to the river front (mid afternoon), we were hot and tired and neither of us thought to take any photos ...except for this one Katie took of me when we stopped off at The Bees Knees for a cool drink on the way home.

When we finally trudged back to our hotel, the pool was calling, but we needed a nap more than a swim. Then when we woke up it was pouring rain!

Hoa picked us up in a taxi at 6pm and took us to a restaurant frequented by locals, not tourists. We enjoyed a delicious meal...

Nem hải sản, nem thinh and gỏi cuốn... We had deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls (not in the photo), then we rolled our own using these ingredients. The meat is minced pigs ear (with other yummy bits) spread onto a vine leaf, then pan fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Add fresh greens, cucumber and pickled veg, roll it up then dip it in the peanut hoisin sauce and it's just amazing.
A large group of teenagers came in and sat at the table you can see at the back of the restaurant. Hoa said they would have been 15-16 year olds. It was a birthday party for  one of the girls and they were having so much fun! Half way through their dinner it started raining again really heavily so there was a rush out to their motorbikes to retrieve helmets, coats etc. It was lovely to see them  laughing and having a great time, boys and girls together.

Hoa is delightful company and we totally enjoyed ourselves. It was about 8.30 when we got back to the tailor's for our fitting. There were others there before us, so we watched and waited. There was one slim attractive young woman there trying on some business clothes she had ordered, and she was unbelievable. Her clothes fitted like a glove, but she preened and fussed and complained about every little thing... we felt like slapping her! But of course the tailors just kept smiling and listening and making notes. I reckon she was on her honeymoon... the young man with her was trying on a suit and shirts. If he didn't already know that side of her it would have been a very rude awakening!

Eventually we tried on our clothes... and they fit PERFECTLY!!!..... Shame it's such a long way to go for a decent pair of pants!  The tailor promised to drop them off at our hotel on her way home (about 11pm). Talk about fantastic service! The rain had really set in by the time we caught a taxi back to our hotel, and it rained all night.

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