Published: March 8th 2010March 8th 2010
This is a statement that no mother wants to hear: The best way to travel in most Southeast Asian countries is by motorbike. And I have used them on more than one occasion. They are a great choice because they are able to weave through traffic, take the smaller streets and are way better at avoiding pedestrians than a big honking car. About 90% of the vehicles on the road are motorbikes. So you are not some badass, leather jacket wearing punk if you drive one. A lot of families use them. I have gotten used to the sight of the mother sitting in the back holding a baby, the father driving and a little child sitting in the very front with the protection of his fathers arms around him. Another sight thats funny, but normal to see is people carrying big loads on these tiny vehicles. I've seen everything from egg cartons balancing on each side to pieces of plywood. No kitchen sinks yet.
When we arrived in Hue (pronounced Hwa, the 'a' sounding like the 'e' in hey) we were told about the motorbike tour as a great option to see the sights around the city. While I was a little nervous I decided to saddle up and get back on the motorbike.
This time around on the motorbikes was a lot different than my motorbike experience up the Mountain along the Mekong Delta. When I was going up the mountain my driver had to be in the front. Not because of some rules of line up. He had to be in the front because of some macho man thing. This led us to speed and race sometimes, in my opinion, recklessly. The one time he was racing my friends Rhys' driver, his driver decided to show off and attempted to do a version of a pop a wheelie. When he hit the ground again something happened and the motorbike went sideways and so did the passengers. Rhys walked away with a scraped knee (phew). I didn't want a scraped knee or any broken bones.
Back to Hue - my driver was the opposite because we were always in the back. They each had their assigned place in the line up and we just happened to be last. Which was fine by me. My driver, whose name was wee (ironic name for a motorbike driver), was the silent type. My driver Yom, from before, was talkative. He would give me language lessons along the road. While I enjoyed these lessons I also enjoyed the quietness I shared with Wee.
Our first stop on the motorbike tour was to see the Japanese covered bridge and to check out the local market. As we crossed the bridge we came across an old lady. She was decked out in some finery. She wore a golden silk pantsuit paired with a necklace of pearls. Her english was quite good so we stopped to chat. She informed us that she was gifted in palm reading and she would tell our future for only 20,000 doung, which is the equivalent to $1.10 Canadian. I couldn't pass up this experience. I've always wanted to go to a psychic for fun at home but never made the time and was a little hesitant sometimes by the $60+ bill many of them charged. I sat down told her my age and where I was from and she started my reading. While her english was good she was still quite hard to understand so what she told me may be different from what I understood her to say. Here's my future: I will meet a love when I am 25, but I won't be ready for marriage at the age 0f 27, because I will be too focused on my career. We break up because of this from the sound of it, but I will never forget this love apparently. At some point I meet another love and will have my first child at 33. I will have three children, 2 boys and one girl, and if I understand there will be a set of twins. I have my last child at 43. Within my marriage I will get upset because my husband is working too much so I turn to the bottle and drink. Fortunately the hard liquor didn't damage my liver too much because I live to a nice healthy age of 88. There it is my future in a nutshell!
After my mystic adventure we explored the market. The market was small, housing approximately only 20 stalls. It was not a market geared for tourists, but rather for the inhabitants of the village. It was mainly selling food including fresh dinner. When I say fresh I mean the heart was still beating this morning kind of fresh. I saw a few ducks caged up waiting for the culinary end. It was a bit sad but as a meat eater, its a part of the food chain. That being said I shyed away from eating duck the next few nights.
Our next stop is to a royal tomb. I unfortunately cannot remember for who. What I can remember is the surroundings. The tomb was out of the way of the hustle and bustle of the city. It was built beside a semi-glistening lake with numerous trees providing shade to its visitors. It was quite a peaceful place to lie eternally. When I say a tomb, by the way, I don't mean a masoleum. A tomb, for royalty, is more similar to an estate. With numerous buildings and in this case, greenery for the living to also enjoy. Quite a difference from the graveyards of the Western World.
Next we hoped on the motorway. Where my heart picked up its pace with our increase in speed. We passed a chicken by the side of the road, an alive one may I add. This chicken stuck in my mind because it reminds me of the oldest joke known to man: why did the chicken cross the road? For this chicken: I don't know.
We drove off the motorway and into a little forest. We scurried around trees along small dirt paths. These paths are very small and one would expect they were made for feet. In this world of motorbikes these paths are the perfect size for their slender wheels to carryout their journeys. The forest made me think of childhood fairy tales and I half expected Little Red Riding Hood to come skipping past us with a basket in hand carrying treats for grandma.
We stopped amongst the trees on top of a hill. We had arrived where there were American bunkers from the atrocious Vietnam War. The bunkers weren't beautiful but the location was. If you walk towards the edge of the cliffs you are greeted by a fully glistening river, with green hills and hazy mountains in the background. There were a few boats with extremely loud motors, which soundly like helicopters. It eeriely set the stage to make you feel like you were on the outskirts of the war.
Our final stop was to see the old fighting ring where elephants and tigers were made to fight each other. Although fighting isn't the best word for it. The fighting ring was set up by a royal family who regal animal, who represented them, was the elephant. Before the fight they would injure the opposing animal, the tiger, ensuring that their animal, the elephant, would be victorious. It was a way to show their power.
And that was my view of Hue from the back of a motorbike!