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Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast » Thua Thien - Huế » Hué
August 13th 2012
Published: June 14th 2017
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Geo: 16.4635, 107.585

The bus over the border to Hue, was yet another one running on SE Asia time, with our ETA ever increasing as the day went on! After some dinosaur crisps (yes you did read that correctly... they were actually in the shape of dinos too!) for breakfast, we were on a 'sleeper' bus all day to a town in Vietnam called Hue. The border crossing was rather uneventful, other than the guards attempting to get $1 out of us to line their pockets, apparently for the privilege of an exit stamp. Luckily, with enough of us kicking up a loud stink at the window, they backed down before we had to! However, whilst this was occurring, the bus had driven off through the border! There were a few worried faces, that's for sure, esp from those who had not taken anything off the bus other than their passports! So we actually got to walk through the official border, had our temperature read --- from our forehead, rather than behind ear.... luckily we were all in good, or should i say good enough health to cross to the Vietnamese side.

The time on bus dragged, and it was dark by the time we arrived, but staying at the Backpacker Hostel, in what can only be described as 'Backpackerville', it made it insanely easy to find some good grub and a drink without wandering too far out of the front door! The city, from what we drove through, seemed pretty huge, but the hostel arranged a trip, on a dragon boat for us to do on our only full day in the city. It involved 3 sites, all your drinks and food and of course the boat on the Perfume River. The Hostel itself was lovely, run by an Aussie couple, with happy hours of drinks and happy hours of pizzas too! The dorms (we were the Peaches!!) were in rooms of 10s, so we got to meet some other travellers too, which is always a pleasure, but not a surprise these days. They changed pretty much every day, but it was very helpful to hear info about the places we were heading to from someone other than the company.

After a cold night (in the room - AC on with no remote control!) and a free (hell yes!) breakfast from the hostel, it was time to wander down to the riverside and bored our boat.... we all hoped it would be a dragon boat, but this was not confirmed until we reached the wharf. It was a double headed dragon boat.... even more exciting! As the beers were cracked open, we started to chug up river to the first of our stops.... the Pagoda.... Now having been ill in China, where the three pagodas were, i was quite looking forward to this. It was beautiful, and 'Chin' our guide was very informative about the reasoning behind the signs and numbers around the place, mainly due to lucky numbers in the religion. By the time we had returned to the boat, it was water rather than beer that people were after, as the SE Asian sun was doing us proud! The BBQ food was soon ready to be munched as we cruised up river to stop number two... another temple. Unlike the Wats of Laos, these were not adorned with gold and red, slightly plainer, but non less beautiful. There was a large stone slab to the east of the temple doors, which.. so Chin told us, was there for Feng Shui, as evil spirits approach from the east and therefore the slab stopped them from entering the temple. Pretty damn good idea, if you believe in such things. Chin also gave palm readings, which we most intruiging and kinda bang on for things that happened in the past!? not sure if that is my horoscope head on, where everything they say can be twisted to match something that actually happened! A few of the things that he said, were that i was going to live until I was 85 and have good health too! I would also make a good house wife, as i am good with money!! (ladies - look on right hand, fingers straight and together.... hold it up to a light, and if you have a hole between your middle and index finger, you are not good with money and therefore in their eyes make a terrible house wife!!!) The rest of the things he said, we will just have to wait and see what occurs. The last boat stop, was the Royal tomb, it was very beautiful, but i am not sure really worth the $4 it cost to get in (may not seem much, but out here that is a lot of dong - 80,000 to be precise!) The main gates, had only ever been opened to bring the emperors body through, and not touched since.... and the actual tomb, no one was allowed in to even look at it, apart from 1 person each year to check that all was OK in there! We did see what was the first 'king sized bed', for him and all of his concubines though and some beautiful waters with lilies in again.

After this very warm visit, it was back to the boat for the direct trip back down the river to the docks. I spent the majority of the 2 hr return trip sat on the front of the boat, in the sun, with a drink in hand. The majority of the others, stayed inside for drinks and drinking games, including left hand drinking and not being able to say the words '10' or 'mine'.... it is quite astonishing how many times some people say such things!

On our return, abt 3pm, I decided to make the most of the daylight and head out down 'backpackerville' and see if there were any souvenirs to waste my money on, but luckily i was intercepted by Chris who was venturing further afield to the big market on the other side of the river, so i accompanied him instead, to try and see a little culture of the city before we left early doors the following morning. The market was an interesting experience, with the usual dark, dingy packed to the roof (well tarps) chaos. People yelling at each other in Vietnamese and then seeing 'us westerners' and yelling 'oy madame, same same but different'! Their favorite saying! The smell in the food section, was unreal though, with various pieces of meat strung up or presented on metal plates, festering in the sun and utterly stinking! I was nearly sick! After i was through that ordeal, we found the clothes section upstairs, as i really wanted a 'Good Morning Vietnam' vest top, this was a harder task than i had first assumed, and the only vest that seemed to appear was an XXXXL, now even by east Asian standards, that is bloody huge! So we declined and ran away! After a quick walk to the citadel, which was flattened more or less by the Americans in the war and not lit up at all in the nights sky, we walked back for a fish and chip supper and some gummy bear vodka... it was an awesome day, just a shame about leaving so early in the morning and not being able to see anymore of the city... but time swiftly came to rumble onto the next place,,,, tailors of Hoi An, we are a coming!



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