Its lovely when you find your way to the international airport, spirit your way through check in and security, run by the maze of shops and gates until you are there, ready to board the plane. I was happily in business class on Korean Airlines, on the top deck of a 747 flying in what felt like a semi private jet with only a hand full of patrons on either side to contend with. Then the next thing I will wake up for is landing in Honolulu. Well, not after some movies, and dinner and some drinks and maybe if I’m lucky, some sound sleep.
No longer in Vietnam, just leaving after a short stopover in Seoul, I am no longer spellbound, and filled with guilt and grief over the Vietnam war. At the moment, I am filled with happier thoughts. For one thing, I am going home. As much as I like to leave home, I am also excited when I return.
I had many happy moments in Vietnam, despite traveling solo, or perhaps enabled by it. It was one of my most enjoyable of trips, truly. One exciting part was experienced at the tailor.
After departing Hanoi, Vietnam Airlines took me to Danang, where I located my youthful driver and tour guide, and then found our way to Hoi An. The first order of business was to find a decent taylor in a town known for this craft. I was told that more than 500 shops are there to tailor clothes for the foreign tourists who descend onto this mid country town of under 100,000 people. Of course, there is more reason than tailoring to visit Hoi An. Indeed, it would be my first choice – as a place to live. Charming, historical, filled with both quaint village shops, historical monuments, tailors galore, and modern beachside resorts. In Hoi An, you can have your cake and eat it.
The tailor shop was chosen by my tour guide. I must admit that I did not do any due diligence in the selection. It was getting late and I had to make a decision and put my order in before the shop closed. That way they would have two full days to make me happy.
The shop was called BeBe. I immediately liked the two ladies that I was assigned to at the shop. One turned out to be one of the owners. She was the one that determined the price. Among the items for assembly, I requested the tailoring of two smooth vest suits to be used for dance competitions (the second one was ordered on the next day). I had recently emptied my bank account to purchase a black vest and dance trousers from Dancemo in Germany and so I decided on two pinstripe suits in other colors; one charcoal brown and another tailored in a pleasant light tan. Parenthetically, the cost of both suits together was about one quarter of the expense of the German made costume. The cost was wonderful, but what about the quality? In two days, I would find out!
Brought with me from Honolulu, at the suggestion of a friend –thank you Paul, was an old smooth outfit that fit me nicely. This was used as the template for the suit. The material chosen I believe was a mixture of cashmere and wool, fine to the touch, but light and airy. I was excited with anticipation. I was told to return the next afternoon to have my first fitting. In addition, there were other items that I ordered to be tailored. I had quite a night making rapid fire decisions that I hoped I would not regret.
We returned the next day and the day after. They had shoes for me to wear to perfectly determine the length. The shoulders needed work but otherwise, the first suit was quite impressively tailored. The truth is that I ordered suit number two only after trying on the first. I couldn’t resist. The suit fit almost perfectly and the small alterations that needed fixing seemed minor. Both of the shop workers were quite knowledgeable and skilled. These were not wallflower honeys selling you a used car they have never seen. When something needed altering, an army of workers would descend, take their marching orders and be back in 5 minutes with the alterations completed ready for you to try on again. I felt like a King!
Of course, I had the greatest time. Over the course of the two days, I returned back several times for hours on end, I must have tried on both suit items more than 15-20 times. Ok, the waist is a little loose, now it’s a little tight, the length should be longer, still longer. The shoulders are still wrinkling in dance position, the chest is fine, oh, can you add a small pocket here and another pocket there? On and on and on. The owner took over my order realizing what a pest I was becoming in order to spare her fragile staff from the wrath of my petulance and demanding demeanor. I was more than happy for the attention.
But I didn’t let the owner keep me from having my fun. Filled with a dozen or so helper girls, I found a way for them to parade around trying on different clothing items for my pleasure and entertainment. One of the cute ones even was a little too enthusiastic about accepting my invitation for all of them to return to Honolulu with me. I was tempted for a moment at least.
I did the math. If you order enough stuff, you can save a lot of money and have nicely tailored clothes to return with. Almost enough money to fund a trip to Vietnam. At the very least, it is worth considering. It was just not the clothes, I had the greatest time in Hoi An. I’m dying to return for more……….