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Published: January 18th 2020
Hue's only a measly 3hr drive from Hoi An, so it's ideal for you when you're heavily hung over!
The city feels a lot nicer than some of the bigger places we've been in Vietnam and less touristy than Hoi An. There's still enough going on, still plenty of tourists, but it's not over crowded.
I've signed up for the Motorbike tour of the city, so myself and two others from the group jump on the back of two older Vietnamese guys bikes. Prior to signing up for this, we had to sign a disclosure confirming we were happy with high speeds, heights etc - so I'm not really sure what to expect. As it turns out, the whole trip, their speed was very civilized, I think mostly in part because we had a girl from the group with us and she's hardly a petrol head - if you're picking up what I'm throwing down.
We start off at some small bridge next to the remains of a shitty locals market. It's shitty, not because it's local, but because they've packed everything up already.
Then we head off to the real deal: The Tomb of Tu Duc.
Tu Duc was an emporrer who basically wanted to do what all rich people in power want to do, leave a legacy so he's never forgotten. The fucker really did too. This enormous complex (about 12 hectares) named "Tomb of Modesty" was built just for him. It took estimated 50million workers over 6 years and was completed in 1867. They treated the labourers so badly, that they had a rebellion against him, which was quelled fairly quickly.
He had his own temple, a retreat, boat, his own island to go hunting on, theatre and large personal inscription about himself. On top of that, he had hundreds of wives, lady friends etc.
WHY DON'T I HAVE THIS MUMMY AND DADDY!
We then went and checked out the Thein Mu Pagoda - which is a 7 story Buddhist temple before heading back to the hotel.
That evening we went for dinner with a local family. They made us a 8 course meal and even catered for me. The people were really lovely and food was excellent. The Vietnamese love their rice wine shots, so we probably had about 3 rounds with the man of the house - chanting 1,2,3 GO! Each time. it was good fun.
We found this really cool riverside bar to drink at that had this really enthusiastic owner who kept bringing us out plates of fruit (including passion fruit) and whenever someone new turned up, he proceeded to bring out a full tray of shots that he'd consume with us. Because of his hospitality, we got more people from the group to turn up, which meant more shots, then the 19-29 group contacted our leader and they turned up too... more shots!
We played a drunken game of Jenga (I was drinking juice), which basically got to the point where people didn't care anymore and just kept putting the blocks crooked to mess up the next person.
The next morning I found a Vegetarian place on happy cow and went for breakfast. This place was local as fuck and the people there didn't speak a lick of English. I sat there using the 3 sentences I know, with a combination of googling all the food on the menu, using Google and the classic Geoff arm/hand movements translate to order. It was such a great experience.
The thing that I found the most lovely, was how polite the lady was and the patience she showed. Here was some bell end who didn't speak her language, ordering food he had no idea about, waving his arms around like an aeroplane controller and yet, she just worked with me. In New Zealand, we'd be talking patronisingly slow and getting frustrated because they didn't speak "our language."
The experience was made even better watching all the local Vietnamese people come in and double take when they saw a honky sitting there in what's probably the place they go every morning for breakfast. I'm sure they were asking the lady "The fuck is that snow flake doing here?"
Oh, the food was great too.
We went and explored the Hue Citadel or Imperial city as it once was. A lot of the original structures were destroyed in the various wars they've had. Only 10 of the original 160 buildings remain and there's still signs of bullet holes in a lot of the walls and structures there. Thankfully the Americans were ordered NOT to bomb the place because of the historical structures, but the Viet Cong hid in there for that reason, so a lot of it was still damaged and there's ongoing reconstruction work underway.
The rest of the group had to go back to the hotel to pack their bags etc for the overnight train in the evening, so I went off exploring the city on my own. I found a vege place on Happy Cow that basically was run out of someone's house. I went inside, this old chap greeted me (in Vietnamese... you're probably beginning to see a bit of a theme here), then led me to the kitchen showed me the food and held up two fingers. I thought he meant two options, so I kinda waved at the two that looked the best, then he got me to sit down and brought out a huge plate of food that had EVERYTHING on it. Whenever I finished eating something, he'd bring out a pot full of food and pile it onto my plate. I had to Google translate "no more food please" because the lad was so eager. He then only charged me 20,000 dong ($1.30). I think the number of fingers they hold up is meant to symbolise how much they're gonna charge you.. maybe?
I explored some more, came across some average Pogodas, then headed to the Dong Ba market close by. This place is fucking insane. The alleyways between the stalls is really narrow, people are grabbing your arms to get you to buy stuff, some stall owners are sleeping, there's two levels and just shitloads of shops. I actually got lost and couldn't find my way out. Eventually I saw what looked like daylight and made my way towards it, fighting off the hoardes of Zombie market owners thrusting their arms at me.
Got a 90min massage ($20) from a place aptly named "Best Massage" - which was really good. The lady proceeded to jam her knee, elbow and feet into my body, then try to get my body to do some techniques that you can only imagine a contortionist doing. The worst part was she'd laugh when I'd make manly noises to indicate my discomfort.
We had the overnight train in the evening, so I went and got dinner for that at again, another local place where they didn't speak my dialect. Google translate let me down this time. Trying to tell the lady "Can I get take out" translates to "Can I take it out" in Vietnamese and she looked alarmed. Eventually I used my hand language ability and jumping up to walk away to illustrate the point I was trying to get across... That was NOT telling her I was gunna show her my Dong (the phallic kind - not money).
The overnight train got delayed several times but it worked out a lot better for people as we'd get into Hanoi at 9am-ish instead of 530am.
Tommorrow is Hanoi! Toodles
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