Sunday, September 25, 2016

Shop till you drop

Today's title is frighteningly accurate. Truth be told I only just made it back to the hotel today. Saved by a $3 taxi ride, a swim and three bottles of Saigon Red, I think I might survive but I was definitely on Struggle St there for awhile this afternoon.
Seriously disoriented, heat struck woman wandering down Le Loi St looking for  taxi.
This morning, after a less substantial than usual breakfast because our tummies are struggling from yesterday's over indulgence, we took the hotel shuttle out to An Bang Beach. I'm not a great beach person but it was nice enough lying on the sun lounge for a couple of hours. Like most things in Hoi an, the lounges are allocated according to hotel and 'connections '. I don't know what happens if you just rock up and sit on the wrong chair but we were happy in the cream lounge section under a couple of substantial beach umbrellas. It wasn't Mount Maunganui but it wasn't Warrnie with a southerly blowing either and the water was as warm as a tepid bath.

The ever present souvenir sellers were as abundant on the beach as they are in the town and so, of course I ended up with some balancing dragon flies and a new fan. What else can you say to a polite 30 yr old peddling her wares on a hot, sandy beach with a toddler in tow, except 'How much? Sure, I'll have 5." I haven't had time to study the social welfare situation here in too much depth but there doesn't seem to be as many people living on welfare or on the streets in Vietnam as we've noticed in other countries, including our own. Everyone just works really, really hard and ekes a living in anyway they can. 
Shopping on the beach
Although we've been encouraged to enter many shops, no one has begged us for food or money without offering something in return. Haggling is a bit of a game in Hoi an but at the end of the day I pay whatever they're asking because it just seems fair and reasonable.

It's so hot in the middle of the day that a siesta is almost mandatory and so we took one before heading back into Hoi an for our daily clothes' fittings. First stop was the Little Angel where we picked up Taine's jacket, my pants and skirts and Sophie's dress. Geoff liked his shorts so much he decided to order another couple of pairs, so I guess we'll be seeing the Angel girls again tomorrow! Having skipped lunch we decided to stop at a place on Le Loi St for an iced coffee and some carb loading. It was a foolish mistake to fall for the allure of carrot cake and french fries. Western food is not only expensive here, its also very bland but it was nice to sit for a bit.

Back on the street we ventured to the Friendly Shoe Shop to have some custom leather shoes made. Soft leather for my arthritic toe, strong leather for Geoff's new boots and a long discussion about the length and cut and heel size of Sophie's boots. None for Taine because his feet grow too fast to warrant the measuring!
Just like this one but with more leather, less stitching, higher heel, etc, etc- no problem
In Hoi an the shop holders remember you - every time. Shop 'loyalty' is everything and they love to see you back in the market, always honouring the deal you made the day before if you want to buy something else. So when Taine decided he needed yet another 'genuine' adidas t shirt, we had to walk all the way to the other end of the town to our 'regular' t shirt seller. She was very happy to see us and her aunty, who just happened to be visiting, took a shine to Sophie's blue eyes and black hair (a much sought after but never achieved combo in Vietnam). I'm not sure why but we found ourselves following the aunty back to her house to meet her sisters, an accomplished pair of masseurs who, faster than you could blink, had me sitting in a chair massaging my shoulders and suggesting some eye brow threading. This is the way transactions are conducted in Hoi an and while the idea of a massage was appealing, the threading was not so we agreed (by pinky promise) to go back tomorrow for the massage if only she would let go my arm and let us go home tonight!
Our favourite T shirt seller
I've been wanting to visit some of the historic buildings in Old Town since we got here but by the time we walked back to that area we discovered that Soph had left the tickets at the hotel. There was nothing for it but to stagger back to the main road to look for a taxi; there was no way I could walk all the way back to the river tonight. Heat, dehydration and over spending finally had finally taken its toll and I was almost delirious.
You can carry anything on a bike in Vietnam.
The plan was to shower, swim and then ride back into town for dinner. We only got as far as the shower and swim and then we were so well looked after by the hotel staff that we just kept ordering beers and pool side food till it was time for bed.
I wasn't the only delirious one
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Pho for dinner

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