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Published: June 11th 2017
The round fruit is passion fruit. It is so delicious!
We had a full day today! After a very nice breakfast at the hotel (probably the nicest breakfast buffet so far), we met the group at 9 am. Susan was feeling much better today and seems to be over her stomach bug.
It was a rainy morning, and unlike other days, it has rained on and off all day. Generally just a light rain, but kind of annoying. What can you do, it's the rainy season and no point complaining about the weather. Generally we've been really lucky with the weather. And the forecast for Halong Bay on Friday is for sun!
We hopped on the back of motorbikes and whizzed off for our tour. It was quite exciting riding through the streets of Hue on motorbikes. We headed out to the countryside, which was very pretty even though it was lightly raining at that point (not enough to put on the rain ponchos yet).
Rural Vietnam impressions: older women riding bicycles wearing conical hats, motorbikes and more motorbikes, water buffalo, smiling children waving and calling "hello!", small one story concrete houses, markets jam packed with produce and women wearing conical hats, women doing laundry by the side
of the river, people in small boats fishing.
We went out of Hue into the countryside, and through little villages. As we approached one village it looked like there was a traffic jam of women in conical hats. It turned out to be the market, and the road was so narrow I could have easily reached out and touched people as we passed. It is amazing how the motorbikes could squeeze into these narrow spaces and weave around bicycles and other motorbikes and the occasional car.
At the beginning of the motorbike ride I had the camera and tried to take photos as we were zipping along, but I soon realized I could either hang on or take photos, not both! Susan was more adept at taking photos from the back of the motorbike so I turned over camera duties and Susan got lots of great shots.
We stopped at a little museum with displays of equipment used in rice farming and fishing. There was his little old lady there who demonstrated the equipment. Rice farming was incredibly labour-intensive in the not very distant past, and a massive amount of work. She also showed us various ingenious
We then stopped at an old bridge where there was an old woman who told fortunes. Susan and a few others got their fortunes done (all good!)
Our next stop was a shop for a demonstration of how incense is made, and how conical hats are made. Between the hats two layers there are paper cut outs depicting scenes so when you hold the hats up to the light you can seen the scenes. Very pretty and well made, but too hard to bring home in the luggage! We did get some incense though.
We then rode through the countryside to the Tomb of Tu Duc, which was constructed in 1860s. The Emperor reigned from 1848 to 1883, and prior to his death the tomb functioned as a second Imperial City where Tu Duc could get away from royal duties and concerns. Tu Duc's story is a sad one, as he was unable to father children (a very unfortunate thing for an Emperor back then).
After touring the Tomb we headed to a nearby Buddhist monastery for a fabulous vegetarian lunch. It was a feast. It included a salad made of young fig, a
Pho noodle soup with tofu, banh koai (a royal rice cake), curried vegetables with a savoury donut, rice and mixed veggies (including a tasty variety of mushroom), finished with bananas. I was stuffed once again!
We waddled back to our motorbikes and continued on to the next stop which was a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is an active Buddhist monastery constructed back in 1601. It is in a very pretty location by the Perfume River and is an attractive Pagoda. Within the Pagoda is a display depicting an incident in 1963 when a Buddhist monk set himself on fire to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.
After touring the Tu Thien Pagoda we boarded a dragon boat for a cruise down the Perfume River. The dragon boats are all tourist boats and are also floating shops, with a saleslady trying to sell the passengers clothes, scarves, and tourist trinkets. We just firmly said no once or twice and it was a pleasant ride.
Our motorbikes were waiting for us when we got off the boat, and we returned to our hotel. By this point I felt pretty secure on the
motorbike and didn't mind the manoeuvring and weaving through the traffic. It is Malena's birthday today and when we got back our tour leader Bon had a birthday cake waiting for her. We took it up to the 12th floor bar area (really nice view from up there) and we all shared the cake and Susan and I had a coffee as well.
We are now relaxing in our room. Susan did a bit of laundry and I've been working on the blog. We've decided to do dinner on our own tonight so we'll venture out later to find a restaurant. I think we'll have a light dinner after our big lunch. Tomorrow we meet the group at 8:15 and head off to the airport for our flight to Hanoi. We only have 3 days left on our tour! I can't believe it. We still have Hanoi to explore, and our overnight cruise in Halong Bay, so we still have lots to look forward to. Plus Susan and I have our 3 nights in Hong Kong.
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