Days 96 and 97, Monday and Tuesday, 09/10 April 2012, Hue
Dan and Van had organised a bus for two days to take us all up for an overnight trip to Hue. We left pretty much on time at 8.00 and took the coast road through the “hill of clouds”.
We stopped close to the top, at a big rock that has great views over the bay and is obviously a magnet for tourists and the associated hawkers. There are two hawker woman almost fighting over the right to sell bangles on the bus, it was verging on comical, they were still at it as we were driving off.
The drive to Hue took about three hours and was a mix of stunningly beautiful countryside and nerve wracked clenching of seat arms as we passed trucks and watched oncoming vehicles also overtaking and heading straight for us. I am sure that on more than one occasion the top .001 mm of paint on the buses mirror was left on the mirror of an oncoming vehicle ! We did pass some lovely villages and as we passed Long Co we asked if we could stop “somewhere nice for coffee”, meaning a beach or local cafe. The driver took that literally and we stopped at a resort ! not the same. I am going to go back to Long Co when I return to Da Nang in a couple of weeks as I make my way up Vietnam once all the wedding guests have gone back to NZ and Australia.
We got to the Ideal Hotel in Hue about lunch time and after checking in most of us met for lunch at an Italian restaurant over the road, though I had chicken cashew and rice this is one of my favourite SE Asian dishes for lunch. It was good too, though the smiley face did not improve a very average cappuccino.
After lunch we all did our own thing and I wandered off on my own – nice to have some space, I am too used to looking at things on my own ! I have posted separately about the Citadel. Though I found this great spirit house in a tree (even after seeing hundreds I still love them!) .
And this guy who had a bit of fun trying to get this into the traffic.
Though I have to really experience the thrill of motorbikes as Hue and Da Nang are supposed to be nothing compared to Hanoi and HMC, it was still pretty crazy and very noisy. With Hue being a massive tourist town – there were a lot of hawkers everywhere, especially cyclos and motorbike touts, however, nothing is far and I like to walk – so I did.
After the Citadel we all reconvened in Russell’s room on the top floor of the hotel for a wee gin and tonic or three before heading out to a street stall for dinner. The stall was typical of street food all over Asia, dishes washed nearby in cold water (often not that clean) and wiped on the same old cloth, the tables are a wee big grubby, are very low and the chairs lower, the floor is filthy with cigarette butts and egg shells – but the food was delicious and fresh and cheap. Some of the others who had not been here as long as me were a bit hesitant, but I have seen it all before and never been sick from the food. Though my chicken noodle dish still had some pork in it…
We stopped for an “Italian” wine after at little Italy and I went exhausted to bed.
I am going to need a holiday from holidaying soon as I am tired and my back and legs are sore from playing football – i am feeling worn out !
We all reconvened around 7.00 am for breakfast in the hotel, which was huge and very nice and then shot over the road for a real Vietnamese coffee which I am getting quite used to. It is a short shot of coffee in a small glass with condensed milk. Very strong and sweet.
After breakfast I had a wee like down as I am still tired and then left the hotel at 8.30 for a walk around for a couple of hours, it was stinking hot !
I ran into Dan and Van and we looked at some women doing traditional needlecraft work before I wandered off again and walked over one of the bridges across the Perfume River, hmm didn’t smell like anything I would wear !
I took a walk through the main market and found the fruit and vege and then meat and fish section by the river. A lot of the fish were still kicking in the bowls, they were that fresh ! In Vietnam (I guess all SE Asia) not much of a beast gets wasted, this woman was selling the bits of a pig you would not see in NZ, intestines, liver and a pile of wobbly, gooey fat….
I took a stroll up one of the tributaries of the Perfume River and only a few metres up the side street I was away from the hustle and bustle of shopping, tourists and hawkers. It was a pleasant stroll up a leafy river side street and a got a few picture of people washing clothes and dishes and collecting shell fish in the river. I didn’t take a photos of the woman weeing in the river just on the side of where the shell fish gatherers were : )
It was at this point that my camera battery died and i found my spare was flat ! the spare spare was back in the hotel and mostly flat and the charger was still in Da Nang. I headed back to the hotel, picked up an Adidas running shirt for $6 so I can now send my dying but favourite favourite running shirt back to NZ – the 2XU shirt I got as a spot prize in some event and have almost worn out, I have never found that model shirt ever, damnit. I found this old Colt 45 in a shop near the hotel.
We left Kevin and Philip in Hue as they were off to Hanoi and on to more travels. I am hoping to catch up with them later in the year as they live in London.
After lunch we all piled back into the bus and went out to Tu Duc Tomb, a burial site for the emperor Tu Duc, constructed between 1847 and 1870. The site is not particularly old when compared to Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor in Cambodia, but I was looking forward to seeing more of the Viet style architecture, which is quite heavily influenced by the Chinese style – in my uninformed opinion of course ! I had enough battery life between my three dead batteries