Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hoi An Heaven

6 January 2011:

I had the most gorgeous night's sleep last night and awoke to the beautiful surroundings of my suite and I smiled all over again in realisation that we were finally in Hoi An. Breakfast was outside near the pool and it was just divine. Our hotel is famous for its chocolate croissants and for good reason. They're to die for. The hotel owner, Madam Vy has four restaurants as well as the hotel and the cooking school and so the food is of top quality.

We headed into town on foot soaking up the sights as we went. The pace of Hoi An is so much more relaxed than that of Saigon, and we're all immensely enjoying the slowing of the heart rate. We exchange some money at the bank and go in search of a street where we can get good shoes made. Curry had been given some information by a friend who is a Hoi An veteran. He told her to keep a look out for two girls named Lucky and My and that they gave really great pedicures, manicures etc. We figured we had absolutely no chance of finding them amidst the hundreds and hundreds of stalls in the street. Vendors still came up to us trying to get us to go into their shops but the urgency and aggressiveness wasn't as bad. As we're standing on a street corner looking at our map a lovely looking girl came up to us and asked us if we'd like a pedicure or manicure. We'd flicked off so many people by this stage it was instinctive to tell her to go away. However she persisted with us and said to us, "my name Lucky" you should come with me. We realised then that we'd actually found the famous Lucky and she realised that these were the three women she was expecting. Curry's friend had texted Lucky to tell her to keep watch for us and she did manage to find us. It was hilarious. We went with Lucky to her stall and we ended up having the full catastrophe of pampering - head and shoulder massages, a foot massage and threading for our legs and faces. It took quite some time, but it was just heavenly. We were like jellies fresh out of bowls by the time we'd finished. Eventually we had to go because we were determined to find the tailors and get our orders submitted. 

Caramel found one tailor associated with Lucky and was very pleased with the quote she received and the service she got. We decided we needed some lunch after such a difficult morning of being pampered and ordering clothes. We ended up at Mermaid, which happens to be one of Madam Vy's restaurants. Our lunch was fabulous - about $4 each plus $2 for a cocktail. We were full to the brim by the time we left and headed back into the town for more tailors and more sights to see. There was an incidence of miscommunication where I was standing outside a tailor's shop for over an hour waiting for the girls, whilst they were standing at a corresponding shop number but in the wrong street. Luckily we managed to find each other again, and to celebrate the reunion we decided we should go and have a coffee in a cafe. It was just divine (these Vietnamese people really know how to make great coffee) and the beautiful waitress Nahn was a font of information. I told the girls about the most sublime experience I'd had whilst waiting for them. I'd been given the names of two tailors - one being Mr Xe and the other being Mr Hung, a tailor who didn't speak a word of English and didn't sell fabrics, but would make up the most divine articles if you bring your own fabrics and a picture. Mr Xe is as gay as a carnival and is fussy about how clothes fit. Apparently he has an uncle who does beautiful stitching and is often known to take his clients down the road to his uncle's place to have things finely sewn to perfection. I had arrived at Mr Hung's shop and was patiently waiting with my fabrics for someone to come and attend to me. Mr Hung himself was there, but he completely ignored me whilst he was engrossed in the precise placement of chalk marks on beautiful grey wool which was being made into a jacket. He was so meticulous about where the measurements were I was sure he could be the Pythagoras of tailors. Eventually, a young girl pulled up on a motorbike with a man on the back seat. I did a triple take at this guy and swear I spontaneously ovulated and started salivating. He was the most divinely gorgeous thing you'd ever seen. Australian as well! He was about 25 or so and hot, hot, hot. He was getting some clothes made and needed some expert tailoring for his suit jacket. Mr Hung got the girl to translate to this god-like creature that he needed the shirt to come off so he could measure properly. I swear I'd died and gone to heaven as I stood gaping at the bare torso of this beautiful man. I wanted to lick him like a ice cream. Sadly though, he had to return to the other shop to finish his fittings. The lovely girl asked me what I wanted and I explained. She ended up telling me that Mr Hung only makes jackets but if I came to her shop, she would look after me and give me a good price on tailoring. She said she could take me back to her shop on her bike. If it meant sitting on top of the beautiful man, I would have jumped at the chance, but sadly that was not to be. I was almost about to flick her but decided to ask her to write down her shop name. Sure enough, she was from Mr Xe's shop. She was gorgeous and I arranged to meet her back there as soon as I'd found my friends.  

The girls and I ended up back at Mr Xe's shop where I was very well looked after and the prices were so ridiculously cheap I'm almost embarrassed by them. I'm having quite a lot made, and the tailors will be sewing through the night to have my clothes ready for a fitting at 3:00pm tomorrow. It's almost too much to believe. 

After we'd finished at Mr Xe's, we kept wandering around the streets looking at the wonderful shops and admiring the beautiful buildings. Hoi An is truly a magical place and it's just so relaxing and dignified compared to the rat race of Saigon. 

As the sun goes down, all the lanterns are lit up and it becomes like a beautiful fairy land. Parts of the town become walking streets only so there are no cars and no motorbikes allowed. It's beautiful and quiet and it's the best time to walk around without fear of being run over by something behind you.

We ended up going to another of Madam Vy's restaurants for dinner. This time it was the Cargo Club and I swear I had the best yellow chicken curry I've ever eaten in my entire life. The decor of the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous - a bit like 1920s Egypt from the British perspective. Everyone wants to sit outside on the balcony at the waterfront restaurants and because we didn't have a booking, we had no chance of doing that. We were quite happy inside however, and even more so when it started lashing with rain and everyone on the balcony got soaked to the skin. 

After dinner, we started to walk back to our hotel, but it was too far to go in the rain and we caved in for a cab for the princely sum of $3.

When we arrived back, my laundry was sitting beautifully on my bed. It costs 50cents for a shirt to be laundered and ironed and 75cents for trousers. I'd seriously pay three times that if it meant I didn't have to do it myself. 

We are all exhausted from another day of full on activity and we've got yet another big day tomorrow. Time for a luxurious soak in the bath tub and into bed. We need to be up and at the markets by 8:00am for our cooking class. 

This is truly the most magical holiday. I'm living in the moment and loving every minute.


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