Trip up the Perfume River at Hue

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Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast » Thua Thien - Huế
February 28th 2014
Published: March 3rd 2014
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What a lovely day for a boat trip. Glorious blue sky all day and winter is definitely over now in this part of Vietnam. We can almost see the leaves coming out on the trees as we watch. They will look fantastic in a month’s time when all the blossom is out.

After breakfast we took a taxi back down to the Dragon Boat station and found our boat, number 0367. We wholeheartedly recommend this boat and the family which owns and run it. We have promised the daughter (named Jolly Tran we think) that we would tell people to book this boat and we are doing so.

Our friendly boat owner’s daughter came running up as we found the boat, she had waited to go to school until we were safely arrived. Her dad got her bike off the boat and onto the quay and she cycled off with a big wave to us.

The boat trip we had booked was just for the 2 of us and we had agreed we would visit 3 sites on the river, all within easy reach of the river bank on foot. There are other sites, tombs along the way which need transport by motorbike and we didn’t want to get into that complication.

Mrs boat lady, all smiles, so typically Vietnamese, settled us inside on our plastic chairs while she went through to the back where her husband was driving the boat. We could see there was another room in there and think she was doing the washing and at some point she was cooking our dinner.

Don’t know quite how the boat driver sees where he is going as there is a lot of boat in front of where he is driving from the back and a lot of it is taller than he is. However he does it it is was a very steady ride all the way. The family obviously live on the boat, in the back room. There was also a cat which was fastened to a not terribly long rope and it occasionally gave out a loud squeal as it tried to get somewhere further away than the rope would allow !

We had a really lovely ride up the Perfume river. It isn’t perfumed, in fact it probably doesn’t smell too good at all if you are in it which fortunately we weren’t. It looked pretty deep in places but it was incredibly calm and smooth. Not sure how far we travelled West along the river, about 12 km we think. We watched lots of river traffic, Dragon Boats like ours carry tourists but also barges laden often with sand and sitting so low in the water we couldn’t really see how they stayed afloat. These are not just working boats but homes as well.

We stopped at a point where the river splits into two while Mrs Boat lady (we never did get her name) jumped off and went to get a bag of ice, this just so we could have chilled drinks with our meal.

We then turned back East towards Hue and pulled in to the river’s edge to visit the Hon Chem Temple. This is the oldest building along the river and is more than 1000 years old and can only be approached by boat. Our first time climbing off the boat was a challenge as the front end was just wedged somewhere on the bank and we clambered over the front of the boat and down a little step which hangs over the side. We did get better at this after a couple of other stops !

Next stop was the Royal tomb of Minh Mang, an emperor of the Nyugen dynasty. This covered an extensive area with several very ornate buildings and lakes. A wonderfully peaceful place.

Back on the boat, dinner was served. A little table had been laid ready between our chairs and we were presented with about 6 dishes of fish, meat, prawns, tofu and vegetables followed by two plates of water melon and pineapple. No way we could eat all of it but we were pretty sure the family would be feasting on the remains later.

Our final stop was Thien Mu Pagoda. Another climb up the bank and there was a towering pagoda complete with monks and their living quarters.

We were very happy with the 3 sites we had visited, an excellent selection and all very different but gave us a good flavour of the Vietnamese culture.

Back on the boat again we returned to the Boat Deck, thanked our Mr and Mrs Boat people most profusely for a fantastic day out on the river and returned by taxi to our hotel. Nicely in time for an afternoon swim in the pool.

Later that night, when we were eating dinner in the town centre again, our charming boat girl spotted us and came across to check we had enjoyed the trip. We assured her that we had and that we would indeed recommend her family boat

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