Sabbatical days 233-240: Lovely, Lantern-Lit Hoi An

If you’ve been following along, you know that since arriving in Vietnam about two weeks ago, we have had very little sunshine and a whole lot of rain and drizzle, which is worse than rain for your spirit if you ask me because it wears at you slowly. But we headed south from Hanoi, and found that the sun shone on Hoi An just enough.

I’ve always wanted a rain poncho.

Despite all the intermittent clouds, and despite getting a bad case of homesickness coupled with a lingering cold, Hoi An has been a bright spot. And I’m not just saying that because of all the lanterns (Hoi An is famous for them).

Unlike Hanoi, I connected with Hoi An. Please don’t be offended if you love Hanoi. It just wasn’t my thing. Hoi An is a smallish city/town of about 120,000 people. There is an Old Town, which they call the Ancient City, with cute shops and restaurants and picturesque views of the lazy river, plenty of coffee shops and a tailor at every other storefront. Did I mention that Trent got a beer for eighteen cents?

Before the sun disappeared…

One of the few sunsets we got to see in Hoi An – worth the wait

Be Be tailors

View of Ancient Town

One of the few moments with sunshine

Top 10 sandwich shop in the world, featured by Anthony Bourdain on that show the name of which I can’t recall right now. Yep, I had the mystery meat.

One of our favorite meals at a little place by the river, just off the beaten path

Bucket drinks with our Aussie friends Lynda and Rae, whom we met in Halong Bay and reconnected with here

We certainly did not come here because of the tailors, But I am so so glad that I decided to give custom tailoring a try. It’s not something I ever would have imagined myself doing in a million years back home. For one thing it’s out of my preferred price range, but for someone like me who loves to shop, it was a thoroughly rewarding must-try experience.

I was intimidated to give it a try in the beginning. I mostly shop online where there is anonymity as I hunt and gather my bargains. But this experience would put me and my shopping peccadilloes right out there for everyone to see. Would I sound like an idiot trying to describe what I wanted? I don’t know a pintuck from a pleat, people. Would they know how to make something for a plus size American gal like me? Would I pick some atrocious fabric and be laughed out of the shop?

But I gathered whatever shopping instincts I thought I had (rightly or wrongly), consulted a few fashionista friends over email, downloaded some pictures from the runway, and waltzed right in to the shop as if I knew exactly what I was doing.

The process was so simple and easy and actually quite fun. It would be dangerous if this activity was so commonplace and affordable back home.

Trent and I decided on a plan before we went in. I would be the designer and he would be the negotiator. It worked out great, and I am exceedingly pleased with the perfectly fitting dress, blazer and winter coat that materialized just for me. Merry Christmas, Rana!

The real magic is that in less than 24 hours I was in for my first fitting and in 48 hours all the pieces were complete and delivered to my hotel after two more fittings. I saw some people going in for suits and dresses that were whipped up gorgeously in less than a day!

You can’t see it here but the lining in this blazer is fun and funky. All party on the inside. Business on the outside.

I couldn’t convince Trent to have anything made. He says the dress is as much for him as me. Do I have a sweet guy or what?

In between fittings we flirted around the little town on bikes and took a day trip up the river to a few little villages.

I have no idea what this is but I think it was for sale in one of the little villages we visited

We pedaled by the rice paddies on the way to the coast one day and then walked along the raw and churning Pacific Ocean.

Hard to believe looking out over the Pacific that home was just a few thousand melancholy miles away. I don’t know if that thought made me more or less homesick but I can tell you the damp weather got under my skin (literally) and made me long for a white Christmas back home in Denver.

This morning, Christmas morning, we leave for Ho Chi Minh City and from there to the Mekong River Delta where we will stay a few nights on a Durian Farm by the great river/superhighway. There’s no sun in the forecast but I’m determined to keep seeing the bright side!

Christmas Eve

2 thoughts on “Sabbatical days 233-240: Lovely, Lantern-Lit Hoi An

  1. The clothes are knock-down gorgeous! And they actually fit YOU. That is a rare experience in clothes-buying here, in my opinion. I guess what we get in quantity and mass-made clothes, we lose in fit just for me. Sigh.

    Can’t wait to see that gorgeous dress, the blazer and coat…and the funky, oh-so-IN lining in person.

    So glad you are making your own sunshine when Mother Nature can’t come through.

    Liked by 1 person

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