Town of Tailors

Hoi An Travel Blog

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On our last morning in Hue we breakfasted to a medley of Christmas carols and Greesleeves. In the grounds of the large hotel opposite was a huge twinkling Christmas tree -  in fact  both in Hanoi and Hue, many shops and hotels still proclaim Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The bus took 5 hours on Highway 1 to reach Hoi An. The road wasn't busy. At the rest stop, 3 coaches arrived at once. It was almost frightening to see how Madam organised her staff, got everyone served and ensured payment was made, all within 20 minutes.

Hills reach down to the coast here but on any flat area there are small villages and rice paddies. We stopped briefly in Danang, in the '60s home to a huge US base. Servicemen on R and R there went out to the (in)famous China Beach and its miles of beautiful sand. Now a golf course, international resorts and condos line the shore, like the Hyatt Regency Danang Residences - agents: Savills! Quite a contrast to the paddy fields and the village houses with their salad gardens and ducks.

We arived in Hoi An to be met by our hotel taxi and whisked off to another friendly well-run place. Hoi An is a beautiful small town with many well preserved old buildings. Yes, it's very touristy, but still has lots of charm with its waterfront setting and pedestrianised streets: "The town for walkers and primitive vehicle users". There was a tradition of tailoring here and that has burgeoned into dozens of tailors shops for tourists - a dress/ suit in a day. By the look of the number of tourists carrying bags of clothes (including us) it's good business. And you can have shoes made too. Hilary did!

Our nod to culture was to take a car into the hills to see the Cham sacred ruins from the 1500 year Champa Hindu civilisation here, that had collapsed more or less by the 17th century. Hindu temples rose up from tropical vegetation through mist and rain - quite atmospheric. As in a very different way were the 40 year old bomb craters - the site had been a Viet Cong stronghiold, and the largest temple had been destroyed in a US bombing raid. History all around!

A  last day's wandering through Hoi An, in between getting final fittings for trousers, was lovely. Going to a bar on an outlying island, a huge snake slithered in front of us. Back in town a Frenchman wandered round with a Silva compass round his neck.  Where could he get lost? French tour groups predominate in town, but there are also lots of Aussie travellers with about a week left of their summer holiday.

Next stop Nha Trang on the overnight Sleeping Bus. Mmm...

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