Hoi An, Vietnam – Shopping by design! #Travel #GeckosTales

The last two days were spent in the sleepy little village of Hoi An, which is about a 30-45 minute drive from Danang, Vietnam.  Hoi An is best known for its tailor shops and custom fitted clothing!  When there is good clothing around, I become very very happy!   My first impressions of Hoi An was that it was quiet and nothing to do, since out hotel was a little out of the way and really near nothing. On arrival our Gecko’s tour guide took us for a quick walk through town and then we realized that this was going to be a very unique town and a place we will not soon forget.

As in most cities there are good and there are bads of the place.  I prefer to start with the good things!

1. Good shopping!  – After looking at several tailor shops I decided to go with AoBaBa Tailors – this tailor shop has on staff about 20 employees at any given time.  The girls were lots of fun to work with and really helped me get everything I wanted!  I am a hard ass when it comes to shopping and negotiating, so I started off with 2 Silk Pajamas. They wanted a little too much, so I had to negotiate on what I thought was a fair price. First they said no, but then after going to some other shops you could tell that their quality was going to be much better than other places. As I went and saw samples at other shops and didn’t look nearly as nice.

So once I had built a good rapport with them, I talked to them about suits, I got 2 Suits and 2 Blazers, followed by six dress shirts.  I had several fittings over the two days and with a couple of the shirts, I was not happy how they fitted so they had went a remade for me. The clothing fit absolutely perfect!  Once I saw the quality and design I couldn’t stop myself. One of things I always wanted was some Mandarin Collard dress shirts and suits, so I ended up also getting 2 more suits and 4 more dress shirts.  My wife also had some great success, and was able to score 3 dresses and 2 skirts. It total we spent nearly $1100 USD for designs and fabrics we chose and for clothing that nobody else will have any time soon!  – There is something great about being unique and having clothes that are not on the mass market!

If you are visiting Hoi An, visit AoBaba Tailors and ask for Sarah or Kim. These are the two girls who helped my wife and I and they were more than incredible. Patient, fun and full of energy! – info@aobaba.vn (148 Tran Phu-Hoi An, Tel: +84.510.392.0666)

2. Silk & Silk worms! – While we were walking down the streets we noticed some girls hand embroidering pictures! You would not believe me if I told you that the art they were doing was as good, maybe even better than a photograph. There was a beautiful picture of this old vietnamese grandma smoking a pipe. I really liked it, but this time the price did not fit into my budget.  During our snooping around in their shop, the store lady asked if we would like to see the silk worms!  Apparently at the store, they breed silk worms and make their own silk.  If I were to go back to Hoi An, I would definitely plan to get some custom made silk clothing!  The prices are extremely reasonable!   (Hoi An 41 Silk (hoian41silk.com) 41 Le Loi St, Hoi An. Tel +81.510.386.2164)

3.  The quiet streets, the town itself is situated on a river and is very easy to walk around and extremely safe!  In all honesty one of the nicest walking towns areas I’ve seen in a long time.

The bad

1. Food – Now for the bad. Well as we all know, the way to my heart is through my stomach…Hoi An, did none of that. We tried several restaurants and over all I have to say that the food was absolute rubbish and over-priced to say the least. I am not one to cheap out on dining, nor did I in Hoi An, but surely they can do better!  I think out of the six or 8 meals we had in Hoi An, one of them was worth writing home about. The rest were ones that I would tell my friends not to go to.  I did not get many business cards of the restaurants but the one restaurant that was really rubbish was lantern town, it was to be vietnamese food and fusion.  I had the special duck with orange sauce and it tasted like dirt.  My mother had the prawn curry and the “prawns” were smaller than the shrimp I get out of a can from safeway. It was really an absolute joke!    On the bright-side, the drinks were good.

2. in-humane treatment of animals – One of the things that really made me sick to my stomach and maybe the once or second  time in my life that I have felt like I wanted to become a vegetarian for  a day…or at least not support their meat selling habbits. Outside one of the restaurants, I noticed 2 ducks sitting they were quite quiet and the other was opening and closing its mouth as if it was in a lot of pain. it was very strange to see. What we then found out is that the restaurant owners break the legs of the ducks so they can not walk away, also this way they can show the customers that they are going to have “fresh” duck.  Really sick and so in-humane. So awful to see!   Funny enough, the last time I had such an experience where i was grossed out with the treatment of animals was in Vietnam, but in the north where they beat a dog with a bat until it died so they could have for dinner.  – Vietnam, please consider more humane ways of killing your animals.  I eat meat, but do not enjoy the meat when I know that the animals have been abused and assaulted in such ways.

Overall, besides the food. Hoi An was a very special and unique place. I can only bet that the suits and clothing are at affordable rates for only a few more years. I could see that DaNang is a very progressive city and investing a lot of money in building and developing the area. Once it becomes a world-class city and destination, it will explode with tourism and your deals will be much harder to find.  – Lets hope that Hoi An will remain affordable and hold its unique heritage.

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