I really like Hoi An.
It’s a very different experience to Hanoi (which I loved).
The moped traffic couldn’t begin to match the levels I saw in the capital. I was a little flummoxed this afternoon when I noticed the riders obeying the pedestrian crossing signals.
That would mean I had to.
I fully embraced the Hanoi approach of ‘just going for it‘. As long as you pay attention to what is going on around you, it is pleasantly surprising to realise that no-one is trying to kill you.
Hoi An is a very relaxed town. The wide street of elegant houses and buildings are shaded by trees while the shops are virtually all tailors, shoe makers and leather workers. If you can imagine it, they can make it.
I am contemplating a new shoulder bag as the one I bought six years ago in Italy is looking a little battered.
Several ladies offered to copy my existing one and make a new one. I haven’t yet decided if that’s what I want or if a new style would be better.
…whereas I knew exactly what I wanted when I set off for Anna’s Cloth Shop.
I read about her in a couple of travel bloggers’ pages. Anna is independent and not one of the big three brands that are advertised by everyone including my hostel.
She told me she is working to support herself and her son and she is keen to ensure that she only uses Vietnamese products, materials and designs.
I liked her immediately.
I’d already liked the reviews that included the advice to only go and see her (and any other tailor for that matter) when you know what you want.
This is occasionally dressed up with flowery language on the importance of knowing yourself to get a truly personal item of clothing, but let’s face it – they’re busy people and haven’t got time to wait around while you faff about making up your mind.
Anna approved of the fact that I had done my homework.
I knew what two dresses I wanted – shift style because it’s a style that suits me. I wanted one in red because it’s one of my favourite colours and one in emerald green because it will remind me of the colours I have seen in Vietnam.
That really didn’t take a lot of work to decide.
I also wanted an ao dai.
The ao dai is worn by both sexes but now most commonly worn by women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting, long tunic worn over trousers.
I decided I wanted one because the women I’ve seen wearing them look incredibly comfortable and elegant.
I had a strong idea of what I wanted but was keen to take advice from Anna on neckline, fit and the best fabric to get.
Fabrics chosen, cuts and designs agreed, measurements taken and payment made, Anna told me that my first fitting will be in 24 hours.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing the end results.
Anna is also moving her shop to new premises and has invited me to go and see it so once I do, I’ll include her new address here.
For anyone who is in Hoi An over the next couple of days looking for a tailor, simply type ‘Anna’s Cloth Shop’ into Maps.Me and it will take you to her shop. If Anna isn’t there, because she is sorting out the new premises… she has a neighbour keeping watch who summons her whenever a customer appears.
*Featured Photo: Lanterns in Hoi An… more on these to follow in a later blog.