Getting Stitched Up in Hoi An

“Maybe I’ll just get a sundress,” Cortney says. “Perhaps, just a button down shirt for me,” I respond. Three days later we have 5 shirts, 1 dress, 3 jackets, 1 pair of shorts, and a pair of cargo pants, packaged up and on the slow boat to Texas. We’re out four million dong, but feel like shoo-ins for America’s Next Top Designer.

The trip south from Hanoi started with another overnight bus. After ten hours of battling insects and trying to ignore the drivers horn honking fetish, we were ready for a quaint town with good food and a slower pace. We found all that and more in Hoi An.

Hoi An is most known for it’s abundance of excellent and cheap tailors. The town is overun with store fronts advertising all the latest fabrics and fashions. And if they don’t have it, “We make for you, no problem – special price.”

“Well, we’ll just take a look.” That statement turned into a battle plan of all the clothes we needed and desired. We found various styles and outfits that we liked, but the best part about the Hoi An shopping experience is customizing just about any part of the outfit. I bought a muted black jacket with a no frills outside and added a custom silk liner with an embroidered yin yang pattern on the inside. You can’t see it right away, but look closer and there is a little touch of Asia behind the business-like exterior. The second jacket was more military style and casual. This time we selected a bright red liner with embroidery of fiery dragons. After trying it on I thought “Shit, I feel like an undercover Bruce Lee.”

Cortney helped design a jacket based on two patterns she chose online. She also snagged some beautiful tops of all different patterns. All this custom tailoring, fitting, and refitting was done in only a few days, which is an incredible turnaounrd time, but also has a downside which we discovered a couple weeks later. I pulled my best incredible hulk act, splitting my pants in the posterior. We also discovered that one of the shirts was definitely not pre-washed before sewing. “Nick Mad, Nick Smash!”

Oh well, you win some, you blow the crotch out of others. It was still fun to Christmas shop in Asia.

Speaking of Christmas, this is the town we spent Jesus’ birthday, and of course we went straight to the place that was most appropriate for such a revered holiday; the beach. Hoi An has a wonderful stretch of sand just a short motorcycle ride past rice paddies and mud covered water buffalo. We rounded up some friends, including our new Italian profanity professor, Michele, and hit the sea side on the 25th. Snow is fun, but it’s hard to beat dollar beer and fresh seafood while you gaze at the South China Sea.

Hmmm, Beer, that’s a perfect way to end this post. While doing a gastronomical tour of the city, we stumbled upon a place with “Fresh Beer.” And not just freshly brewed beer, but 3000 DONG BEER. A quick refresher on the conversion rate, it’s 20,000 Ho Chi Minhs (Dong) to one US dollar. So we drank home brewed beer for roughly 18 cents a glass. Merry Christmas indeed.

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