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Published: March 19th 2006
I stumbled off the Hell Train into the rain. I stupidly did not accept the cyclo drivers offers and started walking with all of my (very heavy) crap until I was soaked and angry. I hated Hue.
Luckily that didn't last too long. I found a cyclo driver and he carted big old me and all my stuff to the backpacker's alley. I gave him a big tip because I feel pretty bad when someone half the size of me pedals me around in a cyclo.
Hue is deserted compared to Hanoi. I'm convinced I was one of two people staying at that hotel. Cyclo drivers seem to outnumber tourists and accept ridiculously small amounts of money for rides. A lot of restaurants are closed- apparently this is because of Tet.
I really like Hue. Its a smallish town- only 200,000 people. The people are so friendly here! Everybody says "Hello!" and "Good Morning!" to you even when they aren't selling something. You usually have at least one or two cyclo drivers following you down the street- "One hour tour, very cheap- see Citadel?". I usually try the "I'm fat (point to stomach) need exercise (start pumping arms)"
but then they think I'm hungry so they want to take me to their buddy's restaurant. Speaking of food- Hue is allegedly the culinary capital of Vietnam. I got this Hue style "pancake" which looks like a taco so I started eating it like a taco but that was all wrong so the lady helped me out a bit. The Hue- style rolls that you make yourself are also really good, they got a bit of a kick to them.
Did I miss the Superbowl? Is that why I would kill for Doritos and guacamole?
The main tourist attraction of Hue is the Citadel which was mostly destroyed in 1968. So I walked around it and started pretending I was that Gomer Pyle dude from Law and Order: Criminal Intent. "FULL. METAL. JACKET." It made sense at the time because I was deliriously tired. And everybody knows SVU is so much better. There's also some Royal Tombs but I really don't care 55,000 dong a piece enough to see them. So I spent my time in Hue just walking around. Its very peaceful- for Vietnamese standards.
I got some much needed sleep and woke up at 5:30
for my DMZ tour. The Demilitarized Zone (no fighting!) between North and South Vietnam and (naturally) the site of some of the major battles. It took all day but I think it was really cool. We saw the Vinh Moc tunnels- which, unlike the Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon, are not made larger for tourists. But they are larger than the Cu Chi tunnels so its all good for this claustrophobe. I can't imagine spending more than 15 minutes down there- the tour guide said the longest time they stayed down there without coming out was 10 days. No thanks.
We had lunch and drove inland to Khe Sanh, which is pronounced differently than how Bruce Springsteen sings it. You stop at the Rockpile and see forest regrowing after being attacked with Agent Orange. Its amazing to see how Vietnam has recovered in a lot of ways. I can't even imagine what it looked like back during the war. Or what those Marines must have thought when they saw the area- it is beautiful, at least today.
I'm taking the bus (no more train!!!!) to Hoi An, then I'll stop in Nha Trang and head to Dalat and
I think we got 15 m below the ground
Saigon. I'm very glad I'm coming back to Vietnam in May because there's so much to see and not enough time!
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