I had been dreaming about getting fabulous tailor-made clothing for about two weeks before I left Hanoi.
I went through pages and pages in my notebook of sketches, and had many sites bookmarked on my laptop to show for samples. As soon as I arrived in Hoi An, I ran up to my room, completely unaware of my surroundings and uninterested in meeting fellow backpackers. I dumped my bags on the bed, stuffed my purse with cash and dashed down through the lobby and out onto the street. I passed by a couple of restaurants, and then I saw it – several shacks in a row lined with rolls of fabric in every colour and pattern.
I made a beeline for the first one. I was well equipped with tailor shop tips from other backpackers, so I already knew what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend: I was armed with $15USD for one dress, and one dress only. When I entered, it was like I had drifted into a wonderland of clothing, where I could have anything my little heart desired with the snap of a finger. I whipped out my notebook, and showed her the dress I wanted.
In one quick breath, she blurted, “I do for you, no problem…you want more? I make for you.” I politely stuck to my guns with a “No, thank you”. Before I knew it, she had taken me by the hand to lead me to the manikins and show me what she could make for me. I felt like a dog, as if she was waving a piece of meat in front my face. Almost salivating, I agreed to another dress. I was holding a beautiful chiffon dress that I had just discussed and approved with the tailor, when I spotted a lovely pair of shorts out of the corner of my eye. With the dress hanging from my neck, I headed for the pair of shorts and instinctively ordered a pair. Before she could even take the measurements for the shorts, I darted for another manikin to ask for another pair of shorts!
Had I gone mad? What was wrong with me? I thought I was supposed to stick to my guns and only purchase one dress! In the end, the damage wasn’t too bad and I was satisfied with my decisions.
The next day, I rented a bicycle to go to the centre of town, where I really got suckered in to ordering more clothes that I didn’t need. Departing Hoi An, I ended up with three dresses and two pairs of shorts, and it was totally worth it. They custom made an entire wardrobe for me within a matter of hours. My only complaint was that I travelled with a backpack that was already bursting at the seams! Had I known, I would have come with a bag that was half empty! I guess after getting an entirely new wardrobe for under $100USD, having an extra carry-on bag is a small price to pay!