Published: August 3rd 2012August 3rd 2012
Leaving Hoi An should have been a nice straight forward bus, the shortest on our trip up the coast at only 6 hours. Due to get us into Hue for just after lunch, although we weren't too hopeful about the arrival time. It picked us up from the hotel a standard hour late and when we got on the bus we discovered all the beds had already been used, the blankets thrown all over and rubbish everywhere! they sat us at the back again. After the usual stopping and starting to pick up locals we got on our way. I went to sleep for a while and woke up covered in and being bitten by red ants, lovely! However suprisingly managed to arrive in Hue on time. Headed for our hotel and checked in with no problems. We were told by the hotel owners that they had over booked the room and so had to upgrade us for the night - "because we had no choice" to a room with a window, ooh fancy. However we were told we would have to move again the next day first thing or we had to pay extra for the upgrade...what a perk! They
were however very friendly, bringing us iced tea every time we sat downstairs!
Hue itself we found a bit underwhelming. We set off that afternoon to visit the Citadel. This is the old imperial palace, Hue used to be the capital of Vietnam. It is a huge sprawling area of ruins and old buildings surrounded by lovely gardens. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon. However like so many sites in Vietnam, not so well maintained and there was a lot of work being done to restore the buildings. (or rebuild would be more accurate!) Howver I did have my first taste of celebrity when we asked one of a group of Malaysian men to take our picture for us, and after doing this, every one of them wanted their picture taken with me (Rach!). I have heard of this happening to a lot of westerners, but usually blonde ones, so quite strange!
There is quite a distinct back packer area in Hue, however the city seemed very quiet and not many tourists were around, so as a result we struggled to find many bars or restaurants with more than a couple of people in them.
But we managed a few cheep beers and games of pool. As well as some pretty average but cheap food. Most places we have stayed seem to lock the doors up around 11 on a night and have someone sleeping on a camp bed in reception, and Hue was no exception. The difference here being that it took about 5 minutes of knocking to wake the young lad up!
We didn't find a lot to do in Hue really, not many sights in the city and not too much to see without spending a fortune. We just had a potter around by the river and walked through the crazy local market. On the last day in Hue we went on a tour out to the demiliterized area, about 90KM out of Hue. We were told the tour started at 6am and included breakfast, which we thought was a bit odd as we got breakfast at the hotel anyway but went with it! We were picked up at 6.30 and taken 10 minutes down the road to a different hotel and kicked out for breakfast and then taken back to where we started at 7.30 to pick up more people!
The tour itself was a nice day out, saw lots of beautiful country, learnt a lot more about the history of vietnam (or probably more precisely one perspective of the history of vietnam) Got to go down in the tunnels again which was nice, a bit higher this time and had small room spaces where people used to live. We were shown various points of interest on the way there and back, where old military bases were and bomb craters and such.
Hue is a nice enough city, we just didn't find much to do or see!
The next day we had a wander around the city until it was time again for the night bus, this time to the capital, Hanoi. This was the longest one yet, 14 hours overnight and we were dreading it. When we were picked up it appeared we had been swapped onto a different bus, which appeared to have more comfortable beds but was smaller, so less head space! The bus was filled up sensibly, once the tourists were all on, we went to the market and they filled all the other seats with locals, but this seemed more organised
and we had high hopes! And the we set off.... loud TV's blaring in Vietnamese, stopped so many times and filled the aisles with sleeping people so you couldn't move. When we stopped for food and toilets at about 9pm it was the most horrible dirty place yet, 2 inch long cockroaches in filthy squat toilets. Needless to say we didn't eat! We were then each woken up by the driver at about 3.30am and told to get off the bus for the toilet, there was no toilet....just the side of the main road, not even any bushes for cover, but it was made pretty clear we were not stopping again! However suprisingly, we made it to Hanoi on time!
There are more photos below