We reached Hoi An in the early evening and checked into our riverside hotel. But before we reached there, our guide stopped in a courtyard with a large open storefront.
“Here we make clothes,” he announced. It goes without saying that the CS (Chief Shopper) was agog at the prospect of a new jacket, though he bemoaned the fact that he’d packed one and not worn it yet. And I must admit that even I felt a little frisson at the prospect of some trousers that actually fit me. That’s what I went in for. I came out having ordered an Armani knockoff trouser suit in heavy black silk. They took about 75 different measurements, some of them in places I never even knew I had measurements.
“You come back tomorrow at noon,” said the charming and efficient sales girl.
And it continued to rain. We didn’t mind though, because we felt we’d done a lot to contribute to the Vietnamese economy, and besides, the sun would come out tomorrow, as the charming redhead Annie would have sung, had she been there. She would have been wrong.
Our guide picked us up the next morning at 9. He had long ago given up trying to get us awake, never mind alert, before 9. Off we drove to the old town , to visit a thousand-year-old pagoda, complete with 9 foot dragon fountain, and Asian tourists clicking away. Almost next door was the famous Japanese covered bridge. I hadn’t realized before that the Japanese, Chinese and Hindu Cham peoples had all made their home in Hoi An over the centuries. The covered bridge was guarded at one end by stone (or possibly marble) lions and the other by similar dogs. A small shrine half way across beckoned us in the smell of incense. The river was slowly rising to meet the bridge…
Our guide took us for coffee before saying goodbye. He was worried about his wife, because Hue was flooding, and he wanted to take the bus home. We asked him what time the bus left. 12 o’clock, he said. It was twenty to.
Before he caught the bus, Nyan insisted on walking us back to the tailor shop. By the time we got there, it was noon, and I was worrying about him missing the bus.
“No problem,” he said, “it will wait.”
We forced him to leave us, eventually, and Jay and I headed upstairs for our fitting. This was a mistake. The trousers I’d ordered fitted so perfectly that I actually looked pretty good. “You take extra pair?” asked my ever helpful sales girl.
“No time, I said, we’re leaving tomorrow morning.
“No problem,” she said, “they’ll be ready by five.”
“In the morning?”
She seemed to be wondering whether I was a bit slow on the uptake. “No, tonight. And we deliver to your hotel.”
I pondered this, but decided against another pair. I wandered over to the CS, who was trying on his new trousers. They looked great, but CS was scowling.
“They don’t have cuffs,” he said, mournfully. I had an idea. “Why don’t you order another pair, with cuffs, maybe in a different color? I think they can deliver them by tonight.”CS perked up.
What color?” he asked. We settled on a grey/greenish color and I went back to my salesgirl. “I’ll take the other pair of trousers,” I said.
“And a skirt?” She asked.
I nodded. Damn the expense.
It came to $325.