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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hook, line and sinker

While we were traveling around Vietnam we noticed a reoccurring event - we would be on our way to somewhere fabulous and suddenly our driver/tour guide would pull over and we would be stopping at a "local" or "authentic" or "the best" shop, specializing in some sort of handmade goods. After showing us how the item was made we would be brought to a shop to take home some of these special treasures.

It happened during our boat trip down the Mekong Delta (remember that candy making place? Guess who walked away with a whole bag full of treats...)

It happened as we were driving to Heaven on Earth. We were happy as clams riding along China Beach when BAM! We were at a marble factory right next to Marble Mountain (which they aren't even allowed to take marble from anymore...).  Statue, anyone?

I won't even tell you how much marble we walked away with...

And it happened on our first full day in Hoi An.  

A little bit about Hoi An - 

1. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1999
2. It is a destination for backpackers and money makers, and it a favorite tourist destination
3. It is located south of Da Nang, on the South China Sea (aka, China Beach)
4. It was our second destination in Vietnam and our favorite

After making ourselves quite at home at The Nam Hai, we headed into town the next morning for a tour.  Not so fast. Before we made it in to town - literally we were right outside the "official" town entrance, we were guided over to a "silk factory" - we were assured that they were the best in town (suuurreee they are buddy).

They saw us coming...and got us hook line and sinker.

First, they showed us the cute little silk cute the right word?

And then they showed us the process of the worm spinning a cocoon, which is made out of the coveted silk.

In order to get the silk they boil the cocoon and slowly extract the silk

After the silk is spun in to long threads it is finished, dyed and then is ready to be used as embroidery thread or woven in to fabric!

Mind you, this informational tour took all of about 6.25 minutes - then we were whisked away to view table clothes and napkins for the next half hour. After that we were invited to look at the beautiful hand embroidered artwork (which actually was amazing, and expensive!) for another half hour. Just as we were ready to call it a day and escape without any purchases....they led us upstairs...

They sat us down and put book after book after book of items that we could have handmade, tailored to our own measurements - in 24 hours! Maybe it was the lighting, maybe it was the constant and repetitive asking us if we wanted to buy something, maybe it was that little nagging voice in our heads that screamed "IF YOU DONT BUY SOMETHING NOW YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO BUY IT AGAIN AND YOU WILL MISS THIS AMAZING OPPORTUNITY!!"

That pesky little voice.

So we got something made....a three piece tuxedo to be exact.

Finally after all of the fabrics were picked out and all of the measurements were recorded - we thought we were finally going to be on our way to see Hoi An. We had been at this place for nearly two hours, we were ready to move on.

But no! Not before we saw the wonderful wood carving craftsmen and lantern makers!


At that point we started buying stuff just to get our hostess to keep quiet and back off. 

So - six lanterns, a three piece tux and two and a half hours later...we finally were able to start our tour of Hoi An.


Hook, line and sinker.


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