Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An’s distinction for its historic past is two-fold. Once an international trading centre 500 years ago, it was also once the main naval base & port for the capital of the Champa Empire, located 30kms inland & is today known as the My Son Sanctuary.

 

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From the Straits of Malacca connecting the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, north Africa to China & everywhere in-between, the Champa at Hoi An were strategically placed at the heart of south-east Asia & became wealthy from piracy & trade.

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There is a quiet ambience at night that is peaceful & slow paced. Here in Hoi An there are no tall skyscrapers, streets swarming with scooters or night clubs full of women of a questionable nature. There are no large franchise hotels, backpacker slums or wild packs of street children looking to swarm visitors.

The Hoi An Japanese Covered Bridge was first constructed in the 1590s by the Japanese community in order to link them with Chinese quarters across stream as a symbolic gesture of peace. The bridge was heavily constructed in fear of earthquakes occurring. In 1986 the French flattened out the roadway for motor vehicles. The builder of the bridge still remains anonymous.

The Hoi An Japanese Bridge
Cau Nhat Ban (Japanese Covered Bridge)

There are artistic performances in the streets or on the riverside at night time, and the river is lit by hundreds of floating paper lanterns which look so pretty. Like a candle in the wind.

Hoi An is best explored on foot or by bicycle (20,000d per day). I quite enjoyed the route East to Cua Dai Beach as it is what I pictured Vietnam to be. You pass all of the rice paddies and the river estuary. I don’t suggest getting a taxi ride there because it isn’t quite the same experience as on a bicycle.

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The bicycle ride to Cua Dai Beach was 5km. It wasn’t overcrowded but I think that it was because it wasn’t a particularly humid day.

 

Cua Dai Beach, Vietnam, Hoian
Cua Dai Beach, Vietnam, Hoian

You can’t go to Vietnam and not get a custom-made outfit! Vietnam is a huge manufacturing country.  In the last several years, many multinational companies have created manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, solidifying the country’s status.  The direct consequence of this is a huge reservoir of skilled and knowledgeable workers who can do everything from shoemaking, jewelry making, dress tailoring, suit craftsmanship, and more.  The most unique thing to come of this is that custom made things for normal folk is readily available!

I found a store called GM (Gu Mi) Tailor – 57 Phan Boi Chau st, Hoi An. Email: info@gmtailorhoian.com – web: www.gmtailorhoian.com.

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The most difficult task in Hoi An is picking a shop that makes what you are looking for. Wander the streets of Hoi An. Check fashion books in the store and speak to the tailors. Some will click and some will feel overbearing and some simply won’t have what you’re looking for be it quality, price or material.

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I decided I wanted a custom-made dress. I didn’t intend on spending too much money as I am a traveller. Whether the seams are perfect or the stitching exact was not my concern. However, the bride to be and the business man faking an Armani suit are much more likely to want perfection. The point is – know which kind of shopper you are and pick your tailor accordingly.

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GM (Gu Mi) Tailor Dress

I tried on a sample dress which was too large so I asked if I could have it tailor made to fit my figure. My measurements were taken and sent off to the tailor. I was nervous once I handed over my money and prayed that nothing went wrong as I had to leave the next day. As promised, the outfit was ready to collect after five hours. The measurements were very accurate and I was excited to wear it.The dress cost 639,735 Vietnamese Dong which is around £18.

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