I love this city!

Hoi An Travel Blog

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Time to haggle for t-shirts
I'm still in Hoi An for about another 3 hours. We missed getting a reservation on the sleeping bus the previous day so we've been here a day longer. But it still worked out for us because that allowed Mike and Stephanie to finally catch up with us and give us time to see the city together. And of course, we also got them to see our tailor of choice, Kim, and they placed orders for clothes as well.

Mike and Orit really do like to haggle and it makes every transaction very entertaining. The pattern is eerily similar amongst all the Vietnamese vendors. We ask how much an item is and they give us a price. Then we usually counteroffer at half that price. The vendors almost always react with frowns and stuff like "no no no," or "too cheap," or "you kid me.
The trick to getting a good deal is to be just as friendly to them as they are to us
" Then the dance continues usually with the vendors highlighting how their leather or silk is real and good quality and that it is a good deal. Mike tells me that through Huyen's experiences, the Vietnamese pay much cheaper than what they usually quote (one example being $30 for a full suit as of one year ago). So with some items, we have a little insider info and we'll never be able to get that low being foreigners, but we work it a bit. Of course the best strategy is to just get up and prepare to leave if they won't drop the price enough. In general, most of the places we look into, we'll buy something at a compromised price. And at this point, we have a few preferred vendors to get certain things (suits, shoes, fake polo shirts, silk scarves, belts), so we've worked out decent discounts with these people who remember us and we buy a few things in bulk.
The 4 of us enjoying dinner in Hoi An
In the end, that's probably the biggest benefit to the haggling, getting good initial prices on items that we expect to buy a lot of for gifts and such as repeat customers. Finally, all of these vendors are helpful in recommending other vendors when we need something they don't sell and even physically go with us to these other shops. It really boosts our loyalty and in the end, we're all happier for it.

We also finally found a good Bia Hoi last night that we hadn't seen before. It's a series of actual wooden tables with a row of food stalls lined up along one side like how you would see in a carnival or fair. And they had almost American size mugs for their 4,000 dong (or 20 cent) draught beer. Much drinking ensued between us right after. We then hit up the same bar again where we drank more $1 cocktails, ate some food  and played cards and such. Even though most of the city sleeps early (the streets were pretty quiet around 11 PM), the bars and cafes are lively until they close around midnight to 2 AM. All in all, I love this city and this is not even counting us not seeing the beach due to the cool weather. It is well developed and has plenty to please tourists whether you like to do as the locals do or shop and party like the more developed European cities as a fraction of the cost.

We're making some progress on the Picasa album so please check it out for new pics. http://picasaweb.google.com/mbrannon/SoutheastAsiaRound2Hanoi# We now have 3 cameras with pictures that need to be consolidated and uploaded so we are still way behind. But we'll steadily keep those pics going. Finally, we're not all that privy to how the locals are getting their news, but we're aware of the huge earthquake that hit Haiti and it's pretty devastating to hear about when we have recently traveled amongst people as poor as the Haitians. We definitely plan to keep updated on that as we continue traveling and hope they will rescue as many people as they can and work towards recovery.
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Time to haggle for t-shirts
Time to haggle for t-shirts
The trick to getting a good deal i…
The trick to getting a good deal …
The 4 of us enjoying dinner in Hoi…
The 4 of us enjoying dinner in Ho…
Hoi An