back to main page

Backpacking Vietnam, Part 6: I got a tailored suit in Hoi An


Day 14: Relaxing on the beach

After coming out of 4 full days of driving, I was happy to finally be somewhere warm, dry, and relaxing! I got off the bike, got changed, and spent the next bit resting in bed. I spontaneously decided to join for dinner with the hostel, since the hostel itself was organizing it.

For those of you that don’t know, Hoi An is a beach town that’s popular with tourists. During this time of the year (July), it is particularly dry and very hot, meaning perfect weather for relaxing at the beach. Which is great, since my hostel was only a 5 minute walk from a practically empty beach! Although, this meant that if I wanted to go to the city, I’d need to drive there for about 10 minutes.

A more crowded beach than by my house. And still practically empty. This was the middle of the day, at about 3 PM.

After walking along a stroad to get to dinner 30 minutes each way, we ended the day off with a nice bonfire by the beach. I hung out with my new friends that I made over dinner. This is when it came to me that it felt nice to finally be back at a hostel. It was kind of getting lonely going solo the whole time, and I was starting to miss the social interaction that came with the hostel.

A campfire when it's still hot outside? Sure, why not.

Day 15: Getting fitted in the city

I heard before that Hoi An is a place where all the tourists get fitted for suits and other clothing. Seeing as I didn’t have a good suit back home, I thought I would give it a try! I went to the front desk of the hostel, which recommended me a place to go. I took my bike (I know, I got on it today again, which wasn’t what I was aiming for. But trust me, 10 minutes riding of riding now compared to the hours I drove the previous days felt like a breeze), went to the city center, and started looking for the suit shop.

…except that I didn’t know where it was! I had to stop on the side of the road to check. This is when a lady approached me on my bike and asked where I was going. And so I told her. I was recommended this and this shop. She said that it’s going to be more expensive there, since the hotel takes a commission. I should go to her shop instead. It’s rated highly on TripAdvisor!

I thought, why not. My reasoning was that she convinced me with a good argument, and the staff at the hotel didn’t really have a good one. Plus, the high ranking on TripAdvisor thing really convinced me at the time.

In Hoi An. There were even bike lanes on other streets for the bikes, something I haven't seen here since I left Zurich :joy:.

I went into the shop, where the lady immediately started showing me some suits in a catalouge. I went for more of a patterned design, since I wanted something that wasn’t one color, since I found that a bit boring. I also chose a good quality for the fabric, since I wanted this suit to last a long time.

All was good, right? I would buy my suit and then get out. Except no. I was going to be upsold! “Buy two suits!” “How about some dress shirts?” “A chino perhaps?”. I didn’t have enough room in my bag to carry everything, so I wasn’t going to go crazy here. However, the sales lady did convince me at least a bit, since I got three shirts and a chino at the end. I actually thought that shirts would be a good idea, since I also didn’t have any and they would fit my suit nicely. I wasn’t so sure about the chino though, but let’s see.

I could come pick up the shirts tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I had the whole day to myself! So, I went around town for a little bit before meeting up with some friends and going to the beach.

The beach here was amazing! Miles and miles of uninterrupted shoreline, and it was almost empty. We took some seats and relaxed. Aside from swimming, there were other activites that one could do there, including eating and watersports.

What would I do at the beach today?

It started to get real hot though, real quick. Even cold coconuts and shade didn’t help. So into the water it was! A welcome refreshment from the scorching sun. With the salt water breeze, the cool waves, and the sound of the water hitting the shore, this was exactly the way that I wanted to relax after the long motorcycle ride I just came from.

I wanted to stay in the water the whole day, but unfortunately the salt water wasn’t the best on my skin. So, I went back to shore to dry off. This is when I noticed boats that were riding around the bay, dragging people up high in parachutes. It looked like a lot of fun! I never went on one of these before. And when would I ever get to do this again? I went to the man that was advertising it, bought a ticket from him, and walked to the starting place.

There, I was strapped on to some not so secure harness which connected me to the parachute. Then, I was told to run when the boat started to move. The rope connecting me to the boat started getting tighter and tighter, so I ran. Not fast enough though. I took a leap, thinking I would fly, but instead got a face full of salt water! I was dragged underwater for about three seconds until the parachute pulled me up and out.

…higher, higher, and higher! Oh baby, I didn’t expect to be up this high! I don’t like looking down from large heights, so imagine me being strapped to this not so secure harness up 30 meters (100 feet) in the air, looking straight down into the water! Gulp. If you have never been this high, let me tell you that if anything happened and I fell, I would probably be dead when I hit the water, or at least very severely injured.

Side note: This is Kornhausbrücke, a popular urban diving spot in Zurich, and the highest that I've ever jumped into the water from, about 9 meters (30 feet). Looking up from here was already scary; imagine me on the parachute! (Source: Wikipedia)

Thankfully, nothing happened. I got a beautiful view over the city on this amazingly clear day, and the driver took me up, then down, then up, then down again! It didn’t even last 5 minutes, but it was still a cool beach activity.

I didn’t stay too long before deciding to go back to my hostel. I promised my group that I’d meet them in town later that night after I’d go and get some rest.

I booked a taxi to the town, and after having some very very spicy Indian food, I went to go see the town at night. Going to the center, I could see why this place was so popular. The river going through the middle of town was filled with these cute canoes with their lanterns! It looked real nice in the night, despite the absolute mosh of tourists that were there looking at the same thing.

My picture that I took of the lanterns came out terrible, so here's a better picture that I found online. (Source: Wikipedia)

There was also a night market there, the main attraction of the town at this time. I wasn’t planning on buying much, but everyone was pressuring me to buy something from their stand! While it was pretty to see the market, I’m not the biggest fan of people trying to get me to go their shops, especially when I overpay for some stuff due to my bad haggling abilities. This led me to buy some tiger balm for a 75% markup :cry:.

After visiting the market, I said goodbye to my group. Since I didn’t have my own bike here (remember, I took the taxi), I had to take something back home! This is when I decided to try out these GrabBikes for the first time. For those of you that don’t know, this is like any rideshare, but instead of a car, you sit on a back of a moped! These rideshare apps are also nice because you see the price before you book, instead of overpaying when you negotiate with somebody on the street. You also pay by cash instead of card.

I booked one to go home, and after I got to the driver, he demanded twice the amount of money “because it was late”! I was not having any of this excuse, especially after overpaying at the night market, so I told him that I was going to walk home instead (A bluff!). He eventually said fine, he has a friend that can do it for marginally more than the original price because “he lived nearby”. Thinking I wasn’t gonna get a better deal from anyone else, accepted and was on my way home, after the driver finished dropping off a pizza :joy:.

Day 16: Picking up my suit

I went to pick up my suit first thing in the morning. Most of it was very comfortable! I think that the premium fabric made it very nice to wear. I was mostly satisfied with the shirts as well. I think that the extra chino that I got was cheaply made, and I probably would have been better off without it.

Another thing that was kinda uncomfortable: While I was getting my suit, they pressured me to rate them on TripAdvisor in front of them. Now I know why they got the high ratings that they did! I don’t like giving my private rating in front of the store people, so I told them my phone was out of battery and that I’d do it from home (which I never did, because of how they asked me so bluntly to do it). In the end, the service I got was pretty good, so I’m not complaining, but I learned to watch out in the future for high ratings on any website, as I learned how they could be easily fabricated.

Very satisfied and very comfortable.

Aside from getting the suit, today was a rest day. I needed to really be ready for tomorrow, because the plan was to ride over 400 kilometers (250 miles). It would be a rather boring, crowded road along the highway. I could have taken a more interesting route through the mountains, but after the being cold in the mountains, I wanted to stay on a warm and dry road.

After I got the suit, I walked around town a bit more, where I saw this statue. It was strange to see a polish name for me on a statue, so I had to look up who this was. This was Kazimierz Kwiatkowski, an architect who worked to preserve the imperial city of Hoi An, contributing greatly to making the city a UNESCO world heratige site. Very cool!

I also planned out the rest of the trip and my flight home. The flight had to fulfill these criteria:

  • Fast
  • Cheap
  • Left from either Bangkok or Singapore

I looked around for a bit, and the flight I bought left on July 23rd from Singapore, or in about 18 days. Plus, it was direct! This means that I would have to fill my schedule with what I had to do.

It would take me about three full days of driving to get to Ho Chi Minh City from Hoi An. I would also stay one day extra in Da Lat and in Ho Chi Minh City, meaning that I had almost two weeks more to spend! Where would I go?

I would end up making a land route that went through Cambodia and then Thailand, where I would fly to Singapore, spend a few days, and then board that flight to Switzerland.

How my whole trip would end up looking like, plus Singapore. I would still drop off the bike in Ho Chi Minh City, continuing with buses after that. :vietnam: -> :cambodia: -> :thailand: -> :singapore:. Source:

After making my plans, I spent the rest of the day here taking it easy. I wanted to relax before my longest day yet tomorrow. Here, I made my driving days quite long as I wanted to get to Ho Chi Minh City as fast as possible. In hindsight, I don’t know why I decided that I wanted to finish up the rest of Vietnam so quickly. I was actually having a good time here, but there was a strange feeling inside of me that wanted to get to Ho Chi Minh and get rid of the motorbike!

I spent the evening with people from the hostel. I went on a midnight swim with the others. It was nice, but I expected the water to be more refreshing. Instead, it was quite warm, and I didn’t really feel like I cooled off here.

It was also during this swim that I got the idea to try and go for a sunrise swim. About a year ago, I went for an amazing morning swim in Mallorca that was probably the best I’ve ever had in the ocean. The only problem is that I had to wake up early, and I had a long day of driving ahead of me.

I wouldn’t let that stop me, since I didn’t know if I’d have the chance to do this again in Vietnam. So, I went back to set my alarm at 4:45 to wake up on time!

I really enjoyed Hoi An. Not only did it come at the perfect time (after a long and tiring motorcycle ride), but it was also amazingly relaxing. The weather could not have been better, and I also got a nice suit! The only thing that I would do better is watch my money spending, since I felt like my money flew away from me faster here.

Day 17: Waking up for the sunrise, off on the road!

After my 4:45 alarm to see the sunrise (which was around 5:15), I made my way to the beach. What I saw completely shocked me. So many people! It was (relatively) crowded with locals who were going for a swim! I thought that the beach was going to be empty this early, but I think that everybody wanted to enjoy the water before it was painfully hot.

This beach was literally empty mid-day.

Everybody was either exercising, stretching, or swimming. I myself went for a swim and did some stretches. The swim wasn’t as refreshing as Mallorca, since the water was, like last night, not really refreshing. I watched the beautiful sunrise and then went back to the hostel, trying to avoid the loud barking stray dogs that were on the way back!

Totally worth it!

I tried to get some sleep, but no luck. Instead, I packed and left really early, on my way further south, heading for Da Lat. How will this driving compare with before? I haven’t really driven in traffic here before, so let’s see how I will fare.