Sunday, April 1, 2012

HoiAn (tailoring, cooking) and on to Hue

Wow, what an amazing number of tailoring shops there are in HoiAn.  While we allowed time for tailoring we didn't allow time for all the ideas we would think of as we had time to realize the potential. And while we understood that they could make clothes, who knew they would make shoes or leather bags overnight.  

We arrived at the Bebe Cloth Shop at around 3pm.  We all browsed the materials and developed some ideas.  Then off to the hotel to check-in. On our return, each of us focused on more materials and ideas. Then we detailed what we wanted and by 7pm we were measured and asked to return the next day at 4pm for fittings. Bill ordered 2 pairs of pants and 2 shirts.  Pat ordered 4 shirts, 2 silk night gowns, and a skirt.  In truth the limit for Bill & I had to do with fabric selection, but we did just fine anyway. 

One of MANY tailor shops (& the one we used)

Fabrics & samples for Pat's order, all documented below.

Notes about Pat's order
Shelly & Dave, who are still working for a living, each ordered suits and shirts. And during the process Shelly learned about a handbag shop.  Little did she know that this was primarily a place for custom designing her handbag, not a simple shop.  Within an hour's time a new leather bag with promised for the next afternoon.

Leather Shop where Shelly ordered her new bag (ready in less than 24 hours.

We managed a leisurely morning prior to our 11am cooking class at the Red Bridge Cooking School.  We started our explorations at 10am, immediately finding a great shop.  It started with Pat spotting a nice lightweight silk shirt.  Then Shelly noticed one. Then Bill.  While Shelly was trying hers on Pat discovered great scarves, then Shelly found pants… on it went.  And Dave went off to take photos.  With purchases in hand we went of to the cooking class meeting point. The class started with a market tour, followed with a boat ride to the school, and then several hours of cooking and eating.  The food was great. Among other things we made spring rolls, including making fresh rice pancakes.  And we learned not to say "Yum" in Vietnam.  Yummy is OK but yum seems to have a sexual meaning. (We didn't get the details.)

Market Tour preceding Cooking Class

The Goal

Our result

Scenes enroute from Cooking Class 

We couldn't believe Bill's timing with this shot!

A ferry loaded with bikes

We returned to the tailor at 4pm and all was ready for fitting.  Changes were to be completed by 6pm.  We returned again.  Pat & Bill's clothes were done.  Dave & Shelly's required more work but they & their team stayed until all was satisfactory.  In the meantime, we learned that one of the designers had been off to DaNang the evening before to meet with a tour group to take orders. All of which would be ready within 36 hours of ordering.

Bill trying on a new shirt

Fitting changes being made to Dave's suit

Here are some scenes from HoiAn, a really cute World Heritage Site.  We definitely wish we had stayed here longer. 

 We also visited My Son (pronounced My Sewn), a nearby ancient Hindu temple complex which spans the 4th to 13th centuries.. Unfortunately it incurred major damage during "the American War".  Admission includes a dance performance.

Here are a couple traffic scenes from the trip to My Son:

On the way to Hue (pronounced "Whey")

The drive to Hue from HoiAn is several hours with photos stops along the way plus a visit at a marble factory and a pearl shop. Hue is an ancient imperial capital of Vietnam with many extravagant royal tombs, pagodas, temples & citadels.,  The main citadel was pretty much a slightly smaller version of the Imperial Palace in Bejing.  Unfortunately much of the grandeur was destroyed in wars. We spent one night in Hue and left of Hanoi in the afternoon.

 The route from HoiAn passes through DaNang and climbs over the Pass of Ocean Clouds, dropping down to the picturesque fishing villages of Lang Co. In the afternoon we visited the lovely grounds of the home and tomb of Tu Doc and then explored the extensive Dong Ba riverside market.

The next morning our dragon boat cruise on the Perfume river took us to the Thien Mu pagoda, considered by many as the unofficial symbol of Hue. It is active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of its most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk, who in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the South Vietnamese regime and its cruel treating of Buddhist. (Pat was impressed that Shelly recalled this incident from the news.)  We visited the Citadel, containing the Imperial City and the Forbidden Purple city, the Emperor's private residence. Both were almost destroyed during the Tet offensive of 1968. The remaining and/or restored parts are still quite impressive.

Here are a couple scenes from the trip to Hue:
Cool Buddha at Marble Carving Factory

Incense for sale

Scenes from Hue:

Dragon Boat

Transporting Wood

Regal Dragon

Scenes from around the Citadel:

Assessing this area:

We wish we'd stayed in the HoiAn area longer.  Given our experiences staying at the Victoria Hotels, we'd choose the Victoria on the beach near HoiAn (a very inexpensive taxi ride away from the center.)  The visit to Hue may warrant more time to get to know the city (there are many elaborate tombs & temples to explore...but that can get tiring; there is a huge market). But for the quick visit, the payoff isn't worth the long day of driving.  Definitely give it a pass before limiting your stay in HoiAn.

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