Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Tailor of Hoi An

The perceptive reader will discount this post as a thinly veiled attempt to balance the severe inelegance of my previous post with something (comparatively) elegant but he can perform a lewd act on himself because I'm posting this anyway.

We're in Hoi An, (yes, almost a spoonerism of Hanoi) half way up the coast of Viet Nam. It's famous for a couple of local dishes - one called a cao lau which apparently isn't done right unless it's prepared with water from a local well - and it's abundance of tailors. Of course I've been diving headlong into the small restaurants dotted around the quaint French colonial streets but just today we picked up a couple of suits we had custom (ahm ) tailed (?) and it's this that is the thrust of what I'm excited about. It's pretty surreal actually, they measured us up at 4pm one afternoon and the next day it's made, just awaiting small adjustments like leg length etc. One more visit and everything is ready to go. There're actually plenty of cobblers (insert your own puerile joke here) in this town too so we thought we may as well go the whole hog and have some shoes cobbled also. The results are below but really it feels great sliding into a shirt and suit that have been sewn by the hands of local tailors just for you. It's a bad analogy for such delicate work but the girls here are going at it like the hammers of hell. There are embroiderers who's hands flash above and below fabric wound tightly in front of them creating flowers, birds and abstract patterns each time hitting, with amazing accuracy considering the speed at which they work, the perfect point in the cloth. The particular two who took care of us in Yaly's worked all but one day a month and get 5 days holidays every year. And a days work means opening til closing; at least 11 hours.

That's pretty much Hoi An for you, excellent tailors who'll custom make anything you like even from a photo for a quarter of nothing at all, and some transcendant local food. Don't come here for the night life: there isn't one, which is almost more of a pity since you'll really want an excuse to road test the new threads. Ah well, as Adam says, there's always the Melbourne races. (vomit)

Adam didn't want to let Hana know that she'd accidentally thrust the marking pin into his pancreas.

Hana from Yaly's, who took the kind of care of two men that all of them need, telling us if a tie or shirt would just look stupid in the colours we'd chosen.

The sewing rooms in which the dinner-wear fairies of Hoi An perform their magic.

A stolen glimpse of the above mentioned embroiderers.

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