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November 14th 2012
Published: November 14th 2012
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The overnight bus from Ninh Binh was pretty horrible. We were the last to get on the bus and got shoved in the back corner by the toilet with a really nice guy named Triss (could have been Tryst, he was English, maybe... It's hard to keep track of who's from where). After a restless 11 hours we made it to Hue (minus Rebecca's flipflops which got eaten by the bus) and conveniently got dropped off right in the middle of the tourist area. It was about 7:30am, raining and we weren't 100% sure where we wanted to stay so we just let one of the guys (waiting to take people to his hotel) take us to his hotel. The room was okay and we decided to stay – it was still raining and far too early to make well informed decisions.

Hue was the ancient imperial capital, home to emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty during the 1700-1900's. There are many imperial palaces and tombs to be explored in and around Hue. It was also an important city during the Vietnam War and was at times controlled by both the North and South Vietnamese. The Demilitarized zone (DMZ) that existed between the North and South for several decades is 100km north of Hue. The main natural landmark of Hue is the Perfume River wich runs east/west and divides the city in two, with the Citadel and Imperial city in the north and hotels, parks and restaurants in the south.

We didn't want to waste any of our time in Hue so with a free map from our hotel in hand we were off to see a couple of the free pagodas (not before eating some yummy bun cha for about a dollar). As the day continued, the temperature increased. We were able to save some time between sites by catching xe oms (moto-taxi). After seeing what we set out to see we were back in out hotel for a nap. The remainder of our first day was spent wandering around Hue, taking some photos, snacking on new and different meals and Rebecca bought a super cute dress and pair of comfy pants.

Since the hotel ended up being absolutely brutal (the air con never worked – when we told the staff this, they insisted it was on, the power continued to go out – we had to get up in the middle of the night more than once to wake the sleeping staff to flip the breaker – and it was rather damp) Tyler went in search of a new place to stay while Rebecca tidied up. Once new accommodations were acquired we moved our things and headed for the Imperial City. It is a much smaller version (and bared little resemblance) of the one found in Beijing with an obvious French Colonial influence. The Imperial City was broken down into different quarters where an Emperors parents or guests may live as well as buildings that held all the various imperial functions of the empire. There were different palaces, temples, gardens, a big mote that zig-zagged around it and a Forbidden Purple City smack dab in the centre. Much of the grounds had been rebuilt a number of times. Originally it was built in the early 1900's but had to be reconstructed after each war/battle the Vietnamese faced, as it was heavily bombed during wars with the French and the Americans. This created a really interesting atmosphere. The buildings ranged from completely destroyed with only a couple of walls still standing to buildings that were recently refurbished and looked brand new.

By the time we were done exploring the Imperial City it was hot hot hot. Hue was a very warm city, it isn't on the water and has enough traffic to create a bit of a smog cloud so it was sometimes diffucult spending much time outside in the afternoons. It was when we were back in our second hotel that we discussed our plan for the next few days. We could stay another full day and see a couple of nearby tombs and more pagodas; One xe om driver had offered to give us a tour for a reasonable price so we were contemplating that idea however decided that we wanted to move on to Hoi An.

Hoi An is a city we heard fantastic things about and were pretty eager to get there. To be honest, the idea of being so close to a beach was extremely tempting after spending only two days in the heat of Hue. With our decision made, we booked our $3 bus ride to Hoi An for the following day at 1pm; this would still give us the morning to do something if we were so inclined.

That evening we splurged and went to an actual sit-down, linen napkins, pull-out-your-chair-for-you restaurant. It was an Italian place that our hotel owner had suggested (and likely ended up getting a commission for us following through with her recommendation). The food was great! We were given free bruschetta to start off, which is always a bonus. Tyler got a grilled breaded eggplant dish which was layered like a lasagne with cheese and tomato sauce. Rebecca had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with a fresh tomato and basil sauce. Both meals were really tasty and even though we had decided to “splurge”, our dinner with drinks still ended up costing less than $10.

After dinner we weren't ready to call it a night just yet so we went to a bar (Brown Eyes) for a couple of happy hour cocktails. The staff was really welcoming, we got free shots just for walking in the door and the server taught us some Vietnamese that we hadn't yet acquired. Tyler played a game of pool and we hung around for about an hour before heading back to our hotel.

Hue wasn't our favourite place; perhaps we didn't give it enough time or didn't make an effort to see enough but it had an overall big-city feel with some relentless hawkers (we didn't stray far from the South Bank District of the river aka backpacker district) that we were happy to leave behind. The next morning we took it easy, grabbed some breakfast and made one last stop at the market to grab some fruit before catching our bus at about 1pm. We were off to Hoi An with high hopes!

XOXO Ty+Becs

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Bridge in the gardenBridge in the garden
Bridge in the garden

(Imperial City)

(Imperial City)
Bridge from south bank to north bankBridge from south bank to north bank
Bridge from south bank to north bank

Across the Perfume River

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