Published: February 24th 2007February 19th 2007
Feb 18 - Open tour bus to Hue - different company than Sinh Cafe ( $3 each vs $5 each with Sinh). Open tour bus stopped at a decent hotel in Hue but they didn't have a big enough room for the 5 of us (a common problem). James and Kyle went looking but the one accceptable set up (2 adjacent rooms for $15) was not available until tomorow. We taxied to Le Loi where I found us a big bright room with 3 double beds for $10. No internet or breakfast but that is Okay as it seems that everything is close to us.
Most stores are closed so we walked down along the Perfume River but I was so lethargic from the heat that we went back to the hotel and rested until the sun went down.
We ate at a restaurant called Banana Mango Rest. where prices were acceptable. It seems that after dark some of the stores began to open. Nothing we hadn't already seen or that I was wanting to buy.
I thought the weather would be cooler here due to the descriptions in the guidebooks for this time of year. But it is not - it is hot and has to be somewhere in the 30's today.
Feb 19 - Monday - Hue.
Slept in until 9:Am despite our intentions to get up and out before the day got too hot. After breaky we walked to the Northside of the river to the main market. Most of it was still closed due to the TET holiday so we walked to the walls of the Citadel which is about 200 years old. Its perimeter is 10 kms long with a big moat and beautiful arches at the gates. Inside the Citadel is the Imperial City, or rather what remains of it. There is still a great temple with 9 huge carved urns that represent the dynasty members. The reading pavillion looked like such a beautiful place to read. We managed to get a family photo in front of this building. The Imperial City must have been amazing - there is a scale model of it that shows its grandeur way back when. We had a quick look around the Imperial Museum and seen real tanks that the Vietnamese claimed from the US army in 1975. I stopped in front of one and looked up only to find myself stareing down the barrel. It was not a good feeling and I quickly stepped ahead. It is difficult with the kids running around declaring all this war machinery to be "cool". I try to tell them that there is nothing cool about them, but rather they are "interesting".
After snacks we walked back to our hotel in more comfortable temperatures than earlier in the day.
I picked up my laundry at the front desk only to unload it in our room and find that our face cloth and my new bra did not make it back. The desk guy called the laundry lady and she came up to our room and said in her limited English that she never received those items in our laundry bag. I clearly remember putting it in there this morning as I had not sent it out with laundry before. Somewhere b/t the maid at the hotel desk, the laundry service and back to us it has gone missing. I am quite pissed off as out of the couple of purchases I have made this was my favourite and the most expensive. $20 US (but worth over $100 if I bought it in Canada). Any gal knows that to loose your favourite bra would suck since it is so hard to find one that you like and that is comfortable. Hopefuly I can find another in Saigon as I don't think that the boutique where I bought it has a location in Hue.
Feb 20 - Tuesday
Started today early to be at the heat. Hired Cyclos to take us to the train station to see if we could get tickets to go to Danang in a couple of days. All the agents at the tour offices we had inquired at previously said the trains were full so we thought we would go to the source and check on our own. Appears that the trains are indeed fully booked 'til after the 28th due to people returning home after TET.
We decided to explore this part of town and walked across a long train bridge that spanned the Perfume River. The pedetrian way was also the motorcyle route so we would run when we could and then press our bodies against the rails when the bikes needed to get by. We even had to to turn our feet parralel to the rails and make sure the kids heads where sideways to make enough room. The kids thought it was great fun (we did too) and the locals seemed to find this humorous hence we got many big smiles.
We walked down a street not frequented by toursits and then cut into the citadel to where many of the locals shop for clothes and stuff - though once again many are closed due to the holiday.
I tried to find a sunhat for the zillionth time in my life - no such luck. I cannot find a hat big enough in Canada, my odds weren't any better here in Vietnam :( I should have had one made for me in Hoi An.
We walked without any real breaks for 5 hours and probably almost 10 kms. Thankfully the haze stayed over the city today. So even though it was hot the sun was not glaring down on us for the first time in 5 weeks.
Tidbits - most dishes are made with white rice or white flour. Rice noodles, rice steamed, or white baguettes etc... I think my body is crying out for some whole grains and foods that are not fried in a 1/4 cup of oil
- There are sidewalks but with all the motorcycles parked all over them you still have to detour onto the street frequently
- So far Hue is lovely. Beach is about 15 km from town so we haven't seen it yet but the books say it is nice.
-Higher posted entrance prices for tourists to see the historical attractions in Hue. Locals pay 1/2 of what we are expected to pay.
- Mobile cafes set up on the sidewalks at various times of the day. Mainly in the morning and at night. The locals eat there at short plastic patio tables and kid sized plastic deck chairs. Dishes are washed (appears without soap) on the sidewalk and the wash water is thrown onto the street.
-garbage is thrown to the streets, sometimes in haphazard piles. There are workers who walk around day andnight and sweep up the debris and put it into their huge wheelbarrow type things they push around. Did see an NA style street sweeper go by today though.