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After a 669 Km journey from Dalat, with a couple of brief overnight stops we were in the very eagerly anticipated Hoi An by midday. We initially planned to stay for three full days, which was soon changed to four as we loved it so much. Like most visitors would tell you it is definitely Vietnams most atmospheric and delightful town due to its harmonious old town character on the river and lack of vehicles. With the old towns heritage well preserved from when it used to be a major sout-east Asian port from the 15th to the 19th century, it reflects the influence of both indigenous and foreign people and so is classified as one of UNESCOs world heritage sites. With the river silting up in the 19th century, it could no longer be a major port and is nowadays a beautiful, unspoiled travelers destination. The old towns beautiful architecture has been able to be preserved due to the great fortune of tourism and so the pedestrianized streets are lined with precarious golden yellow Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea houses.
Apart from returning to the tailors very often, we didn’t actually do anything very active but rather roam around, eat and just relax in the beautiful town. It doesn’t sound extremely exciting but when in Hoi An, the warm- hearted, welcoming and relaxing environment keeps you wanting more despite having walked the same streets a number of times.
The architecture (aswell as the shops) is what attracted us the most; the 1107 traditional timber frame buildings with golden- yellow brick, or the occasional wooden walls tightly packed in unbroken rows. A number of these buildings were occupied by art-galleries with a predominantly attractive abstract style of artwork which continuously kept admiring throughout our stay; so much so that we ended up buying a piece.
In the evenings we would always go down to the side of the river which was also lined with the exact same architectural style, although these buildings were mainly housed by bars and restaurants. Keeping in with the delightful, traditional atmosphere, the area was lit up with hundreds of lanterns and candles providing beautifully colourful walkways along the edge of the river.
A tradition in Hoi-An in the evenings is to release colourful floating paper lanterns onto the river which therefore also added to the delightful walkways on either side of the river every evening. As it so happens, we found ourselves in Hoi-An during a full moon and despite it not having crazy Full Moon parties like those from the south of Thailand, they still had their own unique celebrations and traditions due to certain superstitions. During the late afternoon for every fortnight, many shopkeepers would prepare the shop fronts with an endless range of offerings as well as burning hundreds of paper bank notes. During the early evening in the old town the electricity was turned off with all the streets, shops and restaurants being lit up solely by candle lanterns. This beautiful relaxing surrounding is further enhanced by the hundreds of colourful floating paper lanterns on the river which surround the many small traditional wooden fishing boats which are used to paddle tourists around.
With it being such a beautiful area with a great atmosphere, we wanted a hostel within close range and we’re lucky enough to find one which was perfect as it was practically in the old town, just outside the pedestrianized area. Despite the face of the old town being maintained, the businesses and homes that once used to occupy these buildings have mostly been replaced by touristic shops, restaurants and the reputable tailor shops.With it always our plan beforehand and with a wedding a month later, the first thing we did after finding a hostel was look for a good but reasonably priced tailor to get ourselves a couple of dresses and a suit respectively.
Tailor Fourty-One in the old market, away from all the individual expensive tailor shops, was where we got all our pieces made and we would definitely go back. Despite some locals questioning the quality of the material used in the market, they still however recommended it for reasonably priced tailored clothing so long as we were careful when deciding on a material. With the ladies from the tailors having no problem on a countless number of fittings to make any minor adjustments, we were able to get exactly what we wanted with everything fitting to perfection. Lou definitely got her money’s worth with at least 8 individual fittings as well as adjusting the dress design quite drastically on a couple of occasions.