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Published: November 9th 2012
One of the statues at Hue citadel
From the highs of Sapa to the lows of Halong Bay we were now heading into the midlands of Vietnam, Hue (as we found out pronounced Hwey), Hoi An and then further south to Nha Trang. But since leaving Sapa the rains had started.
And once it starts raining in Vietnam it takes a long time to stop, in this case 5 days later and 600km further South it did eventually cease. So a note for anyone heading to Vietnam, take a raincoat or even better buy a multicolour poncho like the locals do. And when they are in their hundreds it's quite a sight, a spectrum of colour scattered around the market stalls.
Hue, the first of our 3 destinations to come from the outset looked good. It promises culture, pagodas and a big old fort in the middle. It's like a tin of Stagg Chilli, looking good on the outside until you open it up and pour out the contents. In the end we made the most of it, donned the rain coat and headed out to look around the city. We went for the highlight first, the Citadel which is slap bang in the
middle of the old town. It's an impressive looking place but as it was built only a few hundred years ago, it doesn't have too much history. We did see our first glimpse of the curved roofs with a dragon trim, with many more soon to follow. The old city itself wasn't great and it wasn't long before we moved on.
It just wasn't going to be a good day, and to brighten us up we went for a drink! Ended up getting a cold coffee and a warm beer. Clearly someone wasn't on our side today. We did see some sights on the way though. Skinned frogs were left alive as to keep the meat fresh, still able to jump and breathe. It wasn't easy to see, especially from a stall at the side of the road. And then at the cafe we got the cold coffee from, guess what was on the menu?
Anyhow the day didn't get better so we had an early night and booked ourselves a scooter. And with a scooter it's got to be a good day! Now neither if us have ridden a motorised bike before but with a combination of
quad bike and car experience we felt competent at least with the scooter, maybe not the roads. It really was just rev and go, extremely easy to ride and the roads weren't too bad either, right hand drive and watch the person in front.
We set off around the Pagodas (a religious shrine of sorts) and tombs, all of which were pretty interesting and each different from the last. Some of the tombs were huge, massive woods and land all dedicated to dead king or ruler. The best bit by far though was the bike journeys in between, and we actually felt a little bit more in tune with the way things work but we did get some funny looks from the locals at times. A thing we did see on the way too which was again something you wouldn't see at home, picked baby goats and snakes! Which were of course for eating. So that was Hue.
If we were to do Hue again, which is worth seeing, would would only spend the one day there! It's plenty!
Now Hoi An is a cool place. Filled with little shops alongside the Tha Bon river and its
great for if you want to get a tailored Suit, but after getting a camera and one hell of an expensive rug, neither of us had that sort of disposable money. And due to that fact, we got a bike each for $1 and cycled off around the town. We ventured away from the beaten track into the smaller fishing villages, streets with rows of wooden huts either side. It's good to be away from the cities once in a while. We checked out the local beaches too, both of which were nice however majorly lacking some sunshine. The nighttime in Hoi An was spectacular, hundreds of lanterns surrounding a bridge joining the two sides of the town. This was play time for me with the new camera!
We had our sights set on getting up early to go the fish market, and it meant getting up at 4.45am and this didn't happen. We managed to get up at 6 though and ride the bikes down there but we had missed it and all that remained were shrimp and the smaller fish. Missing it worked in our favour as the fish just bought here was now on sale in
Lanterns in Hoi An
My old camera would have had no chance
Hoi An for a higher price but we saw it all the same. A market filled with only Vietnamese all donning the same hat and multicolour poncho. It wasn't half bad. And once we had finished that we took a boat ride down the river for a few hours visiting numerous commission based shops along the way. Seeing as we had the bikes we thought we should make the most of them, so we headed out again, bums aching badly from the day before, towards the community herb gardens. Here there were row upon row of different herb plots each looked after meticulously well. One of the methods of farming is to go into the swamplands and collect the moss, we saw a woman up to her torso in water dragging behind her the moss. Different to home!
The next day Laura was like a kid at Christmas, we were going for a cooking class to learn how to cook the food. It's definitely worth doing, starting out getting all. The ingredients in the local markets, going to the school by boat and cooking under a palm woven roof is not a bad way to spend the morning. And
an added bonus you get to eat it all. The Red Bridge cooking class is worth the money. And so that was Hoi An, and we now had back to back overnight bus rides to get us to Saigon via Nha Trang.
On the stop over in Nha Trang we had 12 hours before the next bus. We decided on a party boat to the local islands. 7 dollars, food included and a wee bit of drink too! Included as well was snorkelling in crystal clear water, diving of the top of the boat and an onboard band that weren't to be missed plus a loo who looked just like Morgan Freeman. It was by far the best 7 dollars we have spent for a whole days entertainment. All that was left to do before going on to Saigon was to eat. I can't believe how fast the last 6 weeks have gone, summer holidays seemed to last forever!
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