Hoi An (2)

19 10 2009

Sunday 18/10/09

Sunday in Hoi An seems to be just another day as far as local shopping goes. old townThe only discernible difference that we noticed is that motorbikes are allowed in the ‘Old Town’ whereas they are banned from Monday to Saturday from 9 to 5. The only church we could find this morning was a Catholic one which was in Vietnamese anyway; but it was an interesting experience and gives one a greater appreciation of the challenges our refugees must have in entering into our ‘English’ service.

The ‘Old Town’ seems to be totally given to the tourist trade. A stretch of about half a square kilometre along the river is a collection of quaint shops, cafés, temples, period houses, (variously reflecting 300 years of Chinese, Japanese and French settlement or occupation) and trade workshops interspersed with footpath markets. Most of these places are little bigger than the cottages on the ‘circle’ at Battery Point.

P1000205The shopping here is amazing, every vendor calls out in a singsong voice as you pass, “hello sir, madam,…you like buy our shoes…come in our shop, sir, madam…you like lovely dress, madam…shirt for you sir…very nice bananas…you like umbrella…(as it starts to rain again) …you like beer sir, only 15000 dong. (about $1 AUD, now that’s tempting!)” And you can buy boots, shoes, suits, dresses, shirts and in fact just about anything…all made while you wait.

On our tour Friday we saw one family business that specialized in silk; they showed us the process from silkworm to stunning dresses, suits, embroidered tablecloths, sheets etc. We saw the process for producing raw silk (coarse), taffeta (finer), and fine silk. I think we understood the basic difference between them is in how long they take to kill the silkworm in hot water. They had 2 working display looms, one 18th century French hand-operated loom that could only produce less than a metre of silk a day, and a 19th century mechanical loom which was still pretty slow.

This business also specialised in silk embroidery that was gobsmackingly exquisite. Embroiderers work in the shopfront 6 days a week, 8 hours a day. Their top creations, made by young ladies working with extremely fine silk thread, take up to 2 months to produce; its art work that could grace the finest galleries in Australia. (Unfortunately they did not want us to photograph this work) It is so hard to discipline one’s spending! These creations sell for about 550 – 650 AUD – worth every cent we reckon but…

There are literally scores of speciality shops – tailoring clothes would be one of the main examples. You can have a new suit made the same day. At around 5pm this afternoon we went in to buy a new shirt for me. They offered to do it and have it ready later today! (Sunday remember) But to give an example of their persuasive salesmanship, or our lack of discipline, we ordered a new shirt, 2 new blouses and a pair of trousers which we can pick up in the morning all for less than $80 AUD.

The rain continues to fall! Yesterday evening we ducked into a café for tea thinking the rain might pass while we ate and then we could get home without getting too wet. A vain hope as we found out. P1000203The rain steadily increased in intensity until we were experiencing a steady torrential downpour which continued during the night. By the time we finished our meal the storm water drains had ceased to cope and in places water was inches deep over the footpath. (not that you can find much footpath to walk on because of the inevitable obstacles) There was nothing for it but to don our cheap lightweight ponchos and slosh off back to our hotel where we arrived with damp bodies and drenched trousers and shoes.

P1000212P1000213There was a warning of flooding issued this afternoon and we watched fisherman working hard to secure their boats as the river flowed with increasing force and the water approached street level in the old town. It seemed surreal to be enjoying another wonderful Vietnamese meal in an open street-side café as nearby businesses began to move everything upstairs in anticipation of the flooding.

Even in the covered market the bikes keep coming

Even in the covered market the bikes keep coming

One of several weddings we have seen

One of several weddings we have seen

As we sit now in our room preparing this blog it is again steadily pouring outside and the forecast is for more of the same for at least the next 10 days so we may move on Tuesday in the hope of better weather in Hanoi.

PS The new look Blog site is not just for aesthetics. The old one was giving trouble so we hope this one will work better.

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One response

19 10 2009
betty

I am finding it just fascinating ..love mum

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