Hoi An is girl heaven. Every other shop is a tailors, no scrap that, EVERY shop is a tailors. Dresses, skirts, coats, shirts, suits, shoes... everywhere you look!! After checking into a room on the fourth blimmin' floor of a cheapy hotel I spent a few hours simply wandering around in awe, trying to take in everything, and decide what kind of clothes I wanted. It's very hard for a shopaholic like moi not to go overboard in such a shoppers' paradise. Then I saw a beautiful green dress in a cute little tailors and the girl working there seemed lovely and friendly. I chose a few dresses they had on display, and had some clippings of my own from Thai fashion mags (looked at only during the quiet hours at school, honest!) I put on my best haggling hat and ended up with four handmade dresses for 46 quid, seemed quite the bargain.
Spent the rest of the day wandering the backstreets, taking in the beautiful buildings and colours (well, colour, the majority were yellow), eating delicious food - best I've had in 'Nam. Somehow ended up getting another dress from a different tailor... there's tailor fairies making me do such things, I swear! Bumped into the girls from Halong/Hue (we'd ended up on different buses there) and went out for dinner and tried some more of the local specialities then to the most fab bakery ever where I indulged in a coconut tart. Cakes and clothes, what more could a girl ask for!?
The next day I went to the tailors bright and early for my second fitting, as I was told to, and was told to go back in an hour as they weren't quite ready, which gave me visions of a poor Vietnamese girl working through the night. Went for breakfast at some stalls near the market. It was a bit early for rice or noodles so I went for a pineapple and coconut pancake, although what turned up was a banana and milk pancake as she'd run out of pineapple and coconut. Shame she hadn't told me before she made it as I'm not a fan of banana. I should've known that the day wouldn't pan out well after that...
To cut a long story, which would inevitably turn into a massive rant, short, I popped to the ATM and withdrew the maximum amount of about 80 quid (as I get charged each time) to pay for my wares on the way back to the tailors... can you see where this is heading? Got to the tailors, sat down, bag on the desk, dresses were piled on my lap within seconds and I was ushered towards the corner where she was very keen to ensure the practically see-through curtain fully covered me. Tried them on, changes were marked with bright blue chalk, which I hope washes out, and then went back to the hostel only to find all my money gone. Went back and confronted her, at which she threw a very suspect fit, then I spent three hours waiting at the empty useless police station, when I finally saw them they wouldn't go the shop with me to talk to her, and wouldn't give me a crime reference number so I could claim on my insurance. Not a happy shopper bunny! Tried to get my mind off it and went for dinner with the girls and dude from overnight bus/Hue who'd just arrived, then back at the bakery with a lemon meringue tart. Cake helps.
The next morning I went to the ancient ruins of My Son, which were impressive, but after seeing ones in Thailand I wasn't overwhelmed. Back in town I returned to the police station, and waited and hour to be told they'd have to continue 'investigating' the matter and would contact me in England. I'm sure they will!! It was only then they told me there was an office for Commerce, Trade, and Tourism. So I went there and chatted to a sweet old man who was very helpful. Although he couldn't intervene directly he phoned the tailors and spoke to the manager (whom the woman who stole my money had insisted didn't exist when I asked to speak to her the day before), who very generously offered me an $8 discount, the bloody cheek!! What riled me the most was that they refused to give me my already half-paid for dresses without the rest of the balance, despite the fact she'd robbed money from me worth three times more than the dresses! In the end I got angry, threw about half of what I owed on the table, shouted a bit, and stormed out, with dresses. So, not the best experience, but a lesson learned. It's just a shame that what would have been 12 pound-ish dresses are really over 30 taking into account what was taken. Oh well, better than being mugged at gunpoint!
Packed my pricy dresses safely away and got ready for another overnight bus, this time to Nha Trang... keeping everything crossed that it would be better than the last one.