Wednesday 5th May
We caught the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, leaving at 11pm and arriving in Hue at 10:30am. It was a good way to get down the country, the trip was going to take 11 hours so we booked the sleeper cabin and it was magic. A bit of a snack in the train and it was lights out, waking up around 8am the next day to sunshine streaming in the window; Hue was turning it on for us!
After a debacle at the train station where an entrepreneur was trying to tell me that the hotel we wanted to stay in was under construction (completely lying, thinking we were rookie tourists), we got a taxi to Bamboo Hotel. Hue is a major city (used to be the imperial city for Vietnam) and has a huge number of cultural sights including a 10km x 10km Citidel which used to provided protection for the old city and within this citidel is another citidel that used to protect the emporer, his palace and surounding buildings.
We got a couple of motobikes to speed up our travel between sites and we were off to Thien Mu pagoda, an octoganal pagoda that was built by emporer Thien Mu. On the way to the pagoda we saw a pretty classic situation, a Vietnamese guys carrying a fridge on the back of his motorbike – clearly they know how to transport things around the place…The pagoda was pretty impressive, sitting on top of a small hill looking out over the Perfume River, it was definitely one of the best kept sites that we’d seen so far on our journey. Housed away in the ground of the pagoda site was an Austin car – this was the car that the monk, Thích Quang Đuc, drove to Saigon to burn himself in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Ngô Đình Diem administration in 1963.
After Thien Mu, we headed back into town, picked up some lunch and then drove out to the Tomb of Tu Duc, an old Vietnamese emporer. The enclosure was massive and was made up of temple built by the emporer for his wive(s), recreation areas where he would sit and of course the tomb which was in the middle of a pond. A pretty interesting spot and well kept.
Motor bikes issues, stopped us from making it out to the beach that night. We ran out of petrol on the way out there, stopped to get some more from a roadside stall, but when we went to turn the motor back on it wouldn’t start – turns out a whole lot of crap had gone through the engine and something needed replacing. I took Bel (Cutt’s gf) back into town as the bikes were due back at 6pm and it was about that time. After an hour the guy turns up and I tell him our issues so he heads off to 8km away where Jono and Cutts are waiting with the broken bike; they ended up splitting the cost of the part ($3NZD) and make it back into town an hour later – 8pm; bloody motorbikes are causing us more harm than good over here!
The next day we were up early and out to the citidel and to enter into the forbidden city (the emporers old quarters). Although we made it there by 9:30am, the temperature was already up around 39 degrees so we were going to struggle. We made our way into the citidel and the forbidden city for a look around. Much of the emporers buildings and quarters had been destroyed by US bombing back in the war – but they are slowly rebuilding the sight. The buildings that were still intact were interesting to walk through and understand what it would have been like back in emprorer days – this guy was loaded and pretty much called th shots!
The walk back was a hot one, but we stocked up on beer to take to Hoi An to save us and the lads we were going to catch up with a bit of coin (supermarkets offer the cheapest deals on beer in Vietnam). Cutts and Jono stopped for a hug over the perfume river, very romantic but nothing I’d recommend to any guy with self respect…
We’ve now arrived in Quy Nhon after 5 nights in Hoi An – updates will be through for Hoi An at some stage soon!