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Published: March 2nd 2014
Today according to the plan is a Culture day. So after breakfast we headed across the bridge to the Imperial City and the Citadel. On foot as not very far to walk from our hotel at all.
Once there we were accosted by a hoard of Cyclo drivers all offering to take us round the city, very cheap, too far to walk etc etc. We smiled and waved them all away but then one, a little more persistent told us we needed a ticket to get into the Citadel and we thought he was taking us to get one. He and his friend were wearing an official uniform and had a pass so we presumed they were genuine.
Ha ha, the Salts were badly duped this time. Yes the first part of the agreed one hour tour round the old city was pretty good, Bob in his cyclo and I in mine. We stopped to visit a few places and it was pretty interesting but the hour became 1½ hours before we finally made it to the Ancient City entrance gate which surprise, surprise was now open to us. The 200 vnd each we had initially agreed for the
hour had now gone up to 600 vnd (£17) – somewhat inflationary we thought and a pretty good hourly wage rate for the UK never mind Vietnam. We refused to pay quite so much but still came away pretty cross. Hate being conned like this but sometimes it is so hard to get out of it especially when you've been laughing and joking for an hour and a half before the con hits.
This second Cyclo con has put us right off using them and we will not do so again. Taxis, with meters are incredibly cheap and a much, much better option.
The Imperial City isn’t very old, 1820 ish, built when Emperor Gia Long moved his court from Hanoi (further away from China) to Hue by the lovely Perfume river. The city is big and impressive, designated a Unesco World Heritage site and in the process of some very intricate restoration work. To correct the passage of time and the damage suffered in the Vietnam War. There are plenty of buildings to explore, interesting sights to see and we had a very pleasant wander round for several hours.
When we came to leave we realised
that the entrance location was not also the exit as that was really rather a long way across the site. I persuaded a nice entrance guard to let us Out the In and agreed we were indeed “very old” - but he grinned as he said it.
Should mention that the reason for not wanting to walk too much further out of our way was that the weather has changed for the very much better, blue sky is now a permanent feature and it has become much, much warmer and more as one would expect Vietnam to be.
From the “entrance / exit” gate we walked back across the bridge, being somewhat curt now with the cyclo drivers as we've gone right off them.
Back at the hotel we had a swim in the pool and drinks. Bob was fine with his Tiger Beer but my request for an iced coffee was translated as an Irish Coffee. Sent that back but second attempt was worse. If you’ve ever tried a Vietnamese not very nice tasting hot black coffee with a big ice-cube floating on the top you will understand why a second Vietnam experience has been marked
today as not to be repeated. Iced coffee. Never again.
We took metered taxis to the boat station on the river and another taxi back after dinner. They cost just under £1 and we very sensibly ignored the cyclo drivers who followed us round offering a 1 hour ride for 2 dollars.
We wanted to check out the river boat rides. A little confused at first as people kept offering us trips but there were no prices anywhere and communication was difficult. Then out of nowhere appeared a lovely girl, 16ish, who spoke pretty good English. She referred to the dragon boat she pointed to as hers and suggested we book a trip for the next day. So we did, paid her a 100 vnd deposit against the 900 vnd total and promised to return by taxi at 10am for our 5 hour trip including dinner, to be cooked by her mother (“my mum’s a very good cook !” clinched the deal). That girl will, we hope, go far.
More delicious Vietnamese food for dinner. Just can’t get enough of those spring rolls though Bob complained when I accidentally ordered fresh ones again (not fried) as they
are heavy on Coriander which he hates.
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