|Now Hoi An has what I thought was going to be abundant in all of SE Asia, only to be sadly proven wrong - beer for 12 pence a glass!! Bia Hoi is the cheapest so far by about half its nearest competitor!! So by nice surprise I bumped into Simon and Abi who I have previously met in Chiang Mai, Luang Pubang and now Hoi An (and will stay at the same hotel in Bangkok at the end as I'm going to check out the wedding dress Abi is having made there!) and they showed me the secret bar alongside the river and we enjoyed just a couple of budget beers!
Budget was well needed after I was finished with Hoi An....the town is full to bursting with tailors who will make you anything you ask out of all fabrics, all within 24hours including the fitting! So you really would not recognize me here (1) because I was a shop-a-holic (2) because I have an entirely new wardrobe!! 2 days later and lots of fittings later at one of my 5 tailors I now have new outfits for Mikey and Sambo's weddings, 3 new work suits, 4 shirts, 3 dresses (for any occasion suitable but none in mind -yet!), 2 trousers, 1 skirt, 4 tops and a new bag to put them all in!!
My second day in Hoi An, however, turned out to be a national holiday marking the middle of the lunar New Year as well as combined with remembering a bloke who went to the jungle to get medicine and died....so the tailors weren't actually working just headed to the beach, where I also spent the afternoon, but in a quiet area a walk away from the crowds. While at one of my fittings I asked about the meaning behind the holiday and outside each home they burn offerings (photos, fake money, letters etc) to the spirits and inside they offer things to their ancestors at a shrine. They also eat special foods - and this is the good bit - which they shared with me!! Banana leaves wrapped around a jelly-like savory filling and a dodgy gone-off yoghurt - which I ate with a smile!
The town itself is an enchanting collection a narrow cobbled streets, set on the Thu Bon River which used to be an international trading post as far back as 17th century. There are Chinese, Japanese and European influences evident in both the culture and the well-preserved architecture and the Old Town is another UNESCO World Heritage Site.