Shoe Repair, Take 3

It’s that time again! The zipper on my left boot has been slipping more often and yesterday, with a final tug, a side of the zipper pull slipped off the teeth. I’ve been able to tie the boot shut with some string, but it won’t last long.

Er…it works for now.

With some help of google and the hotel staff, we look up a local shoe repair shop and get a written description of the repair we want and we’re off. It takes us a while to find the place; sandwiched between a new teahouse and a restaurant, the shoe repair storefront looks more like someone’s house. But a no-nonsense older woman comes out when we knock on the door, followed by her husband. After taking a glance at the shoes and our note, she nods and we talk business. She wants around USD $30 for the repair and won’t take less. We don’t have a lot of power to talk her down, so we try a different tack: could they resole Stoytcho’s flip flops as well for that price? We pantomime this action, putting new rubber onto the bottom of his flip flops. She gets it and agrees–we’ve got a deal. Stoytcho takes off his flip flops and, now barefoot, hands them over to the woman. Meanwhile, the man is turning my boots over in his hands, evaluating, assessing, and thinking of repairs.

Stoytcho, barefoot because he didn’t bring a spare pair of shoes.

Three days pass before we can return to them to pick up the shoes. When we arrive, the woman smiles and retrieves our shoes, perfectly repaired. For my boots, they removed the old zippers and added new ones in for both the left and right shoe so they match. They’ve also done some sewing where the threads between the leather parts were failing, and added glue at some of the weakened seams between leather and rubber sole. Stoytcho’s flip flops are a bit more of a patch job: they found some old black treaded rubber and glued that onto the bottom of each sandal. It’s crude, but works like a dream. They don’t slip on the wet tile and marble in wet bathrooms, nor out on the sidewalk.

We thank the couple and give them an extra tip for their awesome work. Then it’s off to take more steps and continue our trip around the world.

Ok this was totally in Hong Kong instead but LOOK AT THOSE FRESH, GOOD-AS-NEW BOOTS.

P.S. If you’re looking to repair your shoes in Hanoi, we can definitely recommend these two. You can find them right around here (+/-1 on the address number):

Boots repair (#2?)



The zipper pull on my boots snapped off. I guess this was bound to happen at some point given the abuse they go through. I’ve zipped them on and off nearly every day for the past year. These boots were my main pair of shoes for several months before the trip cause hey, they’re comfortable and have good support and grip. Wearing them also means I don’t have to check the weather daily, something I never got used to as a Californian living in the Northeast. I don’t need to worry about it if I just pop waterproof, weatherproof boots on every day.

But this broken zipper pull is a problem because it means more time and finger strain getting the boots zipped. It’s an even bigger problem because this is the left boot, which had some zipper problems back in South America that required stitching to repair—the zipper started tearing itself out from the rest of the boot. And it’s only month four of the trip, so a new pair of shoes is out of the question. So what have we got that’ll serve as a substitute zipper pull?


Thank goodness I’m clever. When in doubt, hook a keyring loop to it! A tiny carabiner would have also been fine, but one of the easiest things in the world to find are keyring loops. Pick up a cheap keychain, pull one off a keychain you’re already carrying, or just pick one off the ground for free (like I did). You never know when it’ll come in hand to fix a broken zipper.