Wednesday, December 13 2017

VietNamNews

The tailors of Hoi An

Update: November, 19/2017 - 09:00
Popular: More and more foreign visitors visit Hội An for its tailoring. Photo mekongcorp.vn
Viet Nam News

A visitor was very impressed with clothes that were made for her and her husband.

She says that on her next visit to Việt Nam she will bring an empty suitcase for all the new clothes she hopes to buy from Hội An’s  tailors.

The city is also famous for its lantern festival.

By Bùi Quỳnh Hoa 

When we arrived in Hội An, my friend knew she wanted to get a shirt tailored for her husband, however I was insistent I didn’t want one that my husband would not wear. Further, I promised to do nothing but discover the ancient town, although I’m a shopping lover. But when we left the town a day later, I not only had one, but five shirts tucked away in my suitcase. So how did this happen?

After two days enjoying our newspaper’s celebration on its 26th anniversary at the French Village - Bà Nà Hills Mountain Resort in Đà Nẵng City - we decided to extend our trip for two days to discover Hội An, an ancient town of colourful lanterned nights, old houses and shops, delicious food - and friendly people.

Located on the banks of the poetic Thu Bồn River in the central province of Quảng Nam, about 30km south of Đà Nẵng, Hội An, is an oriental classic. With its strategic location next to the sea on the banks of the great river, it used to be one of the main trading centres in Southeast Asia during the 16th century.

With its tranquil beauty, the ancient town, recognised by UNESCO as world cultural heritage in 1999, is the most mentioned place by foreign tourists visiting Việt Nam and has been called one of the top 10 romantic cities in the world.

Hội An is famous for its lantern festival, which is held on the 15th day of every lunar month. It bathes the old quarter in a warm glow of coloured silk, glass and paper lanterns.

The day we came to town the air was cool. Joining the stream of local and foreign visitors, we strolled along winding lanes; enjoyed tào phớ (sweet soya-bean curd puddings), and kem ống - tube ice cream, a popular sweet in the town.

We went window shopping, of course. Everyone in our group went crazy for the eye-catching designs for áo dài (the Vietnamese traditional long dress), suits, dresses, shoes, necklaces, bracelets and rings displayed in hundreds of shops along the lanes. I was no exception. I forgot all my promise about shopping.

Combing the town, I realises the tailors were well-known throughout the world. Many can trace the trade through several generations of their family, and it’s not only women using needle and thread.

With deft fingers and keen eyes, the tailors are known as master craftsmen, able to copy any design. If you show them a picture of a coat, suit, dress or shoes, you can expect a nearly exact replica to be produced within 24 hours.

Lured by eye-catching suits on mannequins, we went to Thu Thủy Tailor, one of the oldest shops in the town.

The old woman in the store greeted us with a friendly and trusting smile. She introduced us her shop’s designs and a wide selection of fabric, both imported and local, in cotton, wool, cashmere and silk.

I told her about the style, fabric and colour of the shirts that I want her to make for my husband. In about half an hour, I finished choosing fabric, then realised that I was unsure about my husband’s size, apart from his height and weight. She asked me about his waist measurement and told me not to worry, they would be fine. I trusted her, but remained a little worried about the final product.

The next morning, we went to Cù Lao Chàm Island and only returned in the afternoon. The time for her tailoring was short, but she had finished my order and shipped it to Đà Nẵng, about 30km from the old town. The shirts were exactly what I asked for. I was extremely happy with the service.

A big surprise was the low price of the shirts. I ended up spending VNĐ1.5 million (about US$66) on five tailored shirts, which were unique, stylish, well fitting, and with high quality stitching and fabric.

A friend also told me about the shoemakers. "Give them your treasured old pair of leather footwear and the next morning you have one or two replica pairs for half the price you paid in France - and in similar, top quality leather," she said.

And of course it wasn’t just me shopping, my friends were too. Thanh Nga went a little bit crazy when she discovered the costs of necklaces, bracelets and earrings in the town. “I bought two necklaces, one bracelet and 15 earrings at just VNĐ500,000 ($22),” Nga said.

“They’re all handmade, so cute and impressive. And the most lovely thing was the low price. I could not buy all these things at such a price in Hà Nội or any other city. It made me forget my tiredness after a day of strolling and shopping,” Nga said.

Bạch Liên had the same idea as Nga. “It was my third trip to Hội An,” Liên said. “I love coming here to visit the romantic villages and ancient houses, contemplate gorgeous lanterns, and buy beautiful arts and crafts at low cost. This time, I bought several dresses and earrings.

“Hội An’s become very touristic, but its inhabitants stay kind and warm-hearted. It’s the people here that make me want to come back,” she added.

Another reason to fall in love with the ancient town is that most tailor shops in Hội An do not bargain. I am so used to bargaining, and I wasn’t expecting a set price. At first, I was absolutely shocked when the tailor refused to come down on cost. Despite this, I bought five pieces, not one. But I felt better to hear her say: the price was already so reasonable, there was no way she could possibly go lower. I thought she’s right too. For those who are useless at bargaining, this is a dream come true.

After several months, my husband still gets many compliments every time he wears his shirts. And they are holding up well in the washing machine.

“I love telling my friends where you got the shirts,” my husband, who is hard to please about dress, told me. “They ask every time I wear them.”

I now regret not buying a dress for myself. I already have plans to go back, and this time with a big empty suitcase! — VNS


 

GLOSSARY

When we arrived in Hội An, my friend knew she wanted to get a shirt tailored for her husband, however I was insistent I didn’t want one that my husband would not wear.

To be insistent means to be very forward about wanting something.

After two days enjoying our newspaper’s celebration on its 26th anniversary at the French Village - Bà Nà Hills Mountain Resort in Đà Nẵng City - we decided to extend our trip for two days to discover Hội An, an ancient town of colourful lanterned nights, old houses and shops, delicious food - and friendly people.

An anniversary is a birthday.

To extend a trip means to make it longer.

Located on the banks of the poetic Thu Bồn River in the central province of Quảng Nam, about 30km south of Đà Nẵng, Hội An, is an oriental classic.

Oriental means to do with the East

A classic, in this case, means something of very good quality.

With its strategic location next to the sea on the banks of the great river, it used to be one of the main trading centres in Southeast Asia during the 16th century.

If a place has a strategic location it is situated at a place that will help someone achieve an aim, such as trading.

With its tranquil beauty, the ancient town, recognised by UNESCO as world cultural heritage in 1999, is the most mentioned place by foreign tourists visiting Việt Nam and has been called one of the top 10 romantic cities in the world.

Tranquil means quiet and peaceful.

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Romantic, in this case, means like a fairy tale.

I was no exception.

If you are an exception, you are different to those around you.

Combing the town, I realises the tailors were well-known throughout the world.

Combing, in this case means to search a place thoroughly.

 With deft fingers and keen eyes, the tailors are known as master craftsmen, able to copy any design.

Deft means “with skill”.

Lured by eye-catching suits on mannequins, we went to Thu Thủy Tailor, one of the oldest shops in the town.

To be lured means to be caught by something that is attractive.

A mannequin is a model of a person’s body on which clothes are displayed.

She introduced us her shop’s designs and a wide selection of fabric, both imported and local, in cotton, wool, cashmere and silk.

Fabric is material.

Things that are imported are bought from other countries.

Cashmere is a type of soft wool that comes from a certain goat.

I ended up spending VNĐ1.5 million (about US$66) on five tailored shirts, which were unique, stylish, well fitting, and with high quality stitching and fabric.

If something is unique there is only one of it.

"Give them your treasured old pair of leather footwear and next morning you have one or two replica pairs for half the price you paid in France - and in similar, top quality leather," she said.

A replica of something is a copy of it.

“I love coming here to visit the romantic villages and ancient houses, contemplate gorgeous lanterns, and buy beautiful arts and crafts at low cost. This time, I bought several dresses and earrings.

To contemplate something means to take time to think about it.

Another reason to fall in love with the ancient town is that most tailor shops in Hội An do not bargain.

To bargain is to try to make someone agree to sell you something at a cheap price.

I now regret not buying a dress for myself. I already have plans to go back, and this time with a big empty suitcase.

To regret means to wish things had happened differently.

WORKSHEET

 

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Thu Thủy Tailor is one of Hội An’s newest shops.
  2. Bạch Liên had been to Hội An twice before this shopping trip.
  3. Part of the shopping experience at the shops in Hội An is all the bargaining one has to do.
  4. Hội An has a river that passes the city.
  5. Shirts were surprisingly expensive in Hội An.

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. False; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. False.

 

 

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