21 October

Tuesday was slow in Hoi An, but Hoi An is a slow town. I had the first fitting for my suit and shirts at 11:30 am. I spent the morning reading and writing in the hostel, taking advantage of the free breakfast (it would be the only morning I spent on the banana pancake trail actually eating banana pancakes), and chatting with the other guests.

In the morning, a couple without a reservation tried to check into the hostel. They had been at Sunflower the night before and found the constant noise and partying unbearable and wanted to find someplace new.

Yaly has always been a big name in Hoi An. The company has been around since the early 1900’s. On the same road out of town as the hostel, they have a large property that displays their work, mostly women’s dresses and ao dais.

Now, Yaly has at least four designated shops in town, and many of the other shops selling shoes and clothing in the ancient town carry Yaly products. While there are a few other tailors that have multiple outlets in Hoi An, I cannot imagine any of them are as big or employ as many people as Yaly.

I met Barbara, the customer service representative assigned to me at Yaly, at 11:30 on the dot. The shirts fit fine and needed only minor adjustments, but the pants and jacket were a bit loose. Barbara joked that she had forgotten to tell the tailor that I was Vietnamese-sized.

We scheduled my second fitting for 3:00 pm that day — too much time to do nothing, and not enough to do something. I grabbed some bia hoi at a restaurant, walked around the Ancient Town, and biked around looking for the hotel I stayed at in 2008 (I was unable to find it).

At 3:00, the clothes fit perfectly. The finishing touches needed to be added — button holes cut, etc — and I could pick my purchases up at 2:00 the next day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at Sac Lo. Still having a tinge of academic interest in why people visit Hoi An, I asked the other guests how long they were staying and why. Most had long stays and they all said they liked Hoi An because it was quieter than the other Vietnamese cities they were visiting.

The Aussies and I planned to meet at 6:00 at DK hostel, where they had moved that afternoon. I found them sitting out front at a large table with other people at the DK hostel. About half were American, but there were French and British guests there as well. One Frenchmen looked beaten up. The lighter-haired Aussie told me that the Frenchman had been jumped by a group of ten young Vietnamese men the prior night after drinking heavily.

The Frenchman expressed that he wanted to get drunk again that night. The hostel did everything it could to support him, with buy one-get one specials during their happy hour. All people at this hostel seemed to be heavy drinkers.

One of the people running the hostel, a foul-mouthed Englishwoman about my age, encouraged the drinking and had planned a night out for her guests. She would be taking the hostel out for street food, although it ended up being a back alley restaurant more than a vendor. Despite the fact that I had quickly grown weary of these backpackers, I joined them. They walked, I used the bike I was renting for $1/day from Sac Lo.

I wish I could remember the name of the back alley restaurant, because it was a great Vietnamese experience. Rolling your own spring rolls, with or without banh xeo. As I arrived, I noticed a line of bicycles from Sac Lo, and, indeed, there was a large group from my hostel at one table, including Lyna, the proprietor who could speak English well.

I sat with a group of Americans from DK. They seemed nice, but I had trouble making conversation with them. As soon as a seat opened at the Sac Lo table, I rejoined my hostel. This action offended the Englishwoman who ran DK. I did not particularly care. She and Lyna discussed who would be paying for me and the issue was dropped.

After dinner, the Sac Lo group headed out to Dive Bar, the same bar from the previous night. We were there for quite a bit, not because we wished to drink, but because the rains arrived and kept us indoors. I played pool against a kind and quiet British traveler who was also staying at Sac Lo. I also chatted with a tall German girl who had arrived that afternoon. She was, like me, on a one-month holiday, though hers started with a two-part wedding in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The rain became lighter, and we biked home.


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