(Day 329 to 334)
16.10.2010 - 21.10.2010 37 °C
We took a night train and arrived in Hoi An in the morning. The minute we arrived in our cabin, we knew it wouldn’t be the good night sleep we expected. Our 4-sleeper cabin already had 3 Vietnamese women in it, 2 of them crammed on one of our bottom bunks (they are more expensive, so we had booked one top and one bottom one). We hesitantly looked at the numbers to make them understand that they were on ours, but this was pointless: One of the women was heavily pregnant and the other was holding a one-month old baby!! How could we make them move? We climbed up to our top bunks and hoped for some sleep, but with a new-born on the premises, this was not to be and we felt like zombies upon arrival.
Anyway, as we arrived, Martin and I went straight to our hotel to freshen up before hitting the tailors! Hoi An teams with them and is famous for tailor-made clothes. Martin had done plenty of research and to avoid potential disasters we decided to split our clothes between 3 of the ones with the best reviews. This was a good idea, but it meant 3 different fitting times daily, sometimes twice a day, which meant lots of and lots of walking around every day. Nevertheless it was worth it as we ended up with lovely clothes and we had allowed 3 full days for this task anyway.
Above the “tailor-made clothes” experience, we thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of this town. Hoi An’s old town is a UNESCO site and is charming. No neon signs here, just stunning houses mostly painted in creamy yellow, with dark wood and stunning red lanterns lining the restaurants, arts & crafts shops and tailors. Some parts are also pedestrian at night with bicycles only allowed. We visited some old merchant’s houses, a market and walked along the river’s edge amongst other things.
We leave with a new Vietnamese favourite place and plenty of nice clothes! (Suits, coat, trousers and dresses – all sent home by excruciatingly expensive post, well worth it though!).
One site we’ve seen through our long time in South East Asia is the lengths the women (mainly) take to stay covered from the sun to maintain a light skin. The use of powders and creams that all have ‘WHITENING’ on them are everywhere. But in Laos, Cambodia and now especially in Vietnam, you see women totally covered up from head to toe to protect themselves from the sun. Jeans, a jacket, large face mask, hats, socks and long gloves all on all day in the sweltering heat.