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Published: November 14th 2011
Flooded streets of Hueby Polona
Another way to get around :)
After a night spent on the bus, we arrived to Hue early in the morning. The moment we stepped of the bus we were “attacked” by touts offering us taxis, hotels...We escaped to a local eatery and had our fix of morning coffee (Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk is, to say the very least yummy!) and then, to avoid the whole bargaining process, we walked over to our hotel. We decided we would not go to the backapckers' first choice – Hue Backpackers – as seeing the prices and having experienced the hostel in Hanoi already, we knew we could find a descent enough room for the same price.
After doing our research we stayed at a hotel called Bamboo Hotel. Not only did we get a really nice room, but the staff there was so nice and friendly, which became even more obvious over the next couple of days.
We were so tired the first day that we only did an “intro” walk around the area and planned to do a proper tour round town the next day. We did contact and meet with Mr Tai from the Hue Freedom riders and booked a 3
day tour from Hue to Hoi Aan (I will not go into any details as Jan will tell you all about it in our next blog). It started raining heavily that night, which we didn't mind as we were pretty tired and we fell into bed and slept like babies. The next morning we set off to get some breakfast but when we arrived downstairs we were in for a bit of a surprise – the streets were completely flooded, water was knee high and it just kept on raining, I mean proper raining. So we turned around and the hotel staff was kind enough to sort us out for breakfast (noodle soup, coffee...). We thought that it would be OK to go out in the evening but it didn't stop raining and we were pretty much stuck in the hotel. Luckily for us, we had great wi-fi connection and cable TV (with HBO and CNN, yaaaaay 😊 ) so no worries there. But it got even worse in the evening when we came downstairs, thinking we would go out to grab some food. Even the hotel lobby was flooded and the hotel stopped serving food at 6pm. Jan volunteered
to go wading in the water and get us some food. Mission accomplished. After filling up our bellies we were optimistic, thinking it would get better the next day, but it actually got even worse and the water flooded the hotel lobby. So there we were, stuck in the hotel for the second day in a row. It stopped raining in the afternoon and we were getting so restless and bored that we said “to hell with it” and we put on our flip flops and went for a stroll on the lake, I mean down the street 😊. It was fun though, as long as you walked slowly and were careful not to trip over the edges of the pavement. The funny thing was that not all the streets were so terribly flooded, so we went for a longer stroll and see how far we would get. It was interesting to see how people made the most out of the situation – you could see kids were enjoying the fact that the streets they lived on became giant swimming pools and some people even offered boat rides from one end of the street to another.
As we saw
that not all of Hue was hit by the floods and due to the fact we only had 1 more day left in Hue before doing the tour with the Freedom riders, we came to a conclusion that the easiest and fastest way to see all that Hue has to offer would be to book a city tour. It ended up to be a good decision as the tour was surprisingly good and we got to see all the things we had on our “to do” list – the old citadel with the Forbidden city, where the emperor and his court, his wives and concubines resided, we went to see the famous Thien Mu Pagoda (behind the main sanctuary is the Austin motorcar that in 1963 took one of the monastery's monk all the way to Saigon, where he publicly burned himself to death to protest the South Vietnamese policies). We also visited the three main tombs surrounding Hue. The tombs belong to the rulers of the Nguyen dynasty and are extravagant mausoleums spread near Hue. Each of the tombs is unique but they all consist of five elements: a pavilion dedicated to the ruler's accomplishments in life, a temple
for the worship of the deceased emperor, a closed mausoleum where the emperor's remains are buried, an honorary courtyard with clay soldiers, elephants, emperor's court, etc. and a lotus pond. That was pretty much it, Hue in a day. We even had an English speaking guide with us, which made it more interesting. He was a funny man though – he kept on bossing us around, making sure that we understood that 30 minutes to see one of the sites was 30 minutes, not 50 and we had to know exactly what time to be back on the bus after visiting each of the sites. 😊 But I guess it's a system he developed over a number of tours and it worked, so he must have been doing something right.
As per usual we found an amazing place to eat (recommended by a Spanish gentleman whom we met on the tour) on the very last evening in Hue. This has been happening to us everywhere we have been to on this trip and it is sometimes very frustrating as you would like to come back and try more food but you can't. Well this place was called the Mandarin Cafe
which is not only known because they serve great local food, but the owner is a photographer, who exhibits his work all over the world, including the restaurant 😊 and every costumer get a free postcard with one of his photos on it.
That was it for Hue, next morning we were up bright and early, we had our last noodle soup at the hotel and off we were with the Freedom riders.
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