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Published: June 15th 2007
After a very uncomfortable night of little sleep on the bus we finally arrived in Hue at around 9.30am. After an experience with some very persistant touts we checked into a room and had a much needed shower before going out for some brunch.
Anja, only having one day to spare for Hue, booked on an afternoon tour and headed off after lunch. We had a little longer so decided to do things ourselves.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the Imperial Enclosure of Hue's Citadel, taking in the various temples, palace buildings and old residences. All very beautiful and pretty much tourist free (except for us of course!) which was fantastic.
Get this though, as a foreign tourist you have to pay almost double the entrance fee of a Vietnamese person - just imagine the uproar if we tried that in England!
Returning from our excursion we were amazed to bump into Ben and Faye (who we had met on the Yangtze tour) as we thought they'd be much further ahead of us by now. When Anja returned we all went out for dinner and had a great time catching each other
up on a few weeks of travel experiences.
Feeling shattered we went to bed early.
Today was another moto day - yeh! We picked up our bike and planned a basic route to take in the rest of Hue's major sights. It was great to be back on the road again and we made short work of getting to the Khai Dinh Royal Tomb just outside the city. We liked this one - it had some great soldier statues that reminded us of the terracotta warriors and the main tomb was intricately decorated with mosaic walls and ceilings.
Back on the bike it was great to have the breeze on us on this sweltering day. A few wrong turns later, including a time where we tried every single option from a set of crossroads, we found the Minh Mang Royal Tomb, which is designed in a different style. This was set in lovely grounds but we didn't think it was quite as cool as the other one!
Deciding not to go to a third tomb as the entrance fees were starting to rack up we headed back into town to visit the free
Thien Mu Pagoda. On the way back we commented on the black clouds that were gathering over our destination but decided to go for it anyway. As we crossed the river in Hue and got onto the right road the wind quickly whipped up, so much so that there were branches flying from trees and leaves and dust swirling around the road. We even had to dodge a flying rubbish bin! We thought this extreme form of motorcycling wasn't really our thing we headed into the town area instead which offered us some cover and the opportunity to pick up some food.
On the way to lunch we made a quick stop at the odd looking Notre Dame cathedral.
The wind having died down we made another attempt at visiting the pagoda, this time successful and well worth giving it another try. The views over the river with the banks lined with tropical vegetation were stunning.
We next planned to visit a small village which has a former residence of Ho Chi Minh but somehow we drive straight thorugh it without noticing and decided to carry on toward the coast and Thuan An beach.
was still cloudy but the beah pretty all the same. We were entertained by lots of local children on the beach and helped to bury a couple in the sand.
Running out of petrol we returned to town for a quick beer in the floating restaurant and a quiet evening.
An early start was required today for our trip to the DMZ, the demilaterised zone that marked the border between North and South Vietnam, ironically this area saw some of the fiercist fighting of the war. There are various war-related sites to visit and we had booked a half day tour so that we were guided around and didn't step on any of the left over unexploded bombs or mines.
We had booked a half day tour as we needed to catch the 2pm bus to Hoi An later in the day and were due to be collected at 6am. An hour later our bus finally arrived. As you can imagine we were really pleased that our 5am get up had been worth it and impressed that none of our half day tour had been wasted! Eventually underway we next stopped for a half
hour breakfast, another stunning use of time. On the way to the first stop we were told that as the bus had left late we would not be visitng one of the sites on the list, a slightly bitter feeling from the earlier events of the day sooned turned to anger and Chrissie carried the flag into battle with the tour guide managing to get the stop reinstated to the day's programme.
We first stopped at the river, the original demarcation between North and South. Following a brief stop here we went to visit the Vinh Moch Tunnels, dug and used by local villagers to survive the American bombings. This was really good and well worth a visit. We took a tour thorugh the tunnels that had been dug between 15 and 23m deep into the hillside, seeing tiny family rooms and a maternity area where apparently 17 babies were born during the war. Unlike our tour guide we had to stoop to avoid hitting our heads!
Back on the bus, we were afforded 5 whole minutes to vist the Doc Mieu Firebase (which would have been missed out) and saw an old tank almost buried in the
undergrowth but feel there would have been more to see given more time.
A quick lunch stop and we were back on the road to Hue, not having been overly impressed with our tour (could you tell that!). A real shame as the DMZ has some really interesting historical landmarks we would have liked to have had more time to explore. Anphu tours you have been named and shamed!
We changed buses at Hue and arrived in Hoi An in the evening where Anja, who had gone on ahead, had kindly booked us all into a room. Hoi An is the place to get tailored clothes on the SE Asia circuit so we spent some time wandering the shops to get some ideas and going with Anja to her numerous fittings - she is a shopaholic!
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