Day 124: Hue to Hanoi, Vietnam.

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March 31st 2010
Published: April 9th 2010
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Hue to Hanoi (via train though)

Day 124: Wednesday, March 31st, 2010.
Hue, later with overnight train to Hanoi, Vietnam.

This morning we took a riverboat cruise down/up/whatever the Perfume River. It was interesting to see everyday life along the river, but I don't think I'll join them on bathing/washing my clothes there. We get to the Thien Mu Pagoda and take a look around. They have the car that drove "The Most Venerable Thieh Quang Duc" to the intersection where he set himself on fire in protest on how Buddhists were treated. They also had sign there saying that his heart remained unburned and it is now on show somewhere. Luckily, not here. No offense, but I don't wanna see it.

From Thien Mu Pagoda, some went back on the boat to hit up a few more temples while the rest of us decided to get there by a more unique means- scooters! Myself, Evelyn, Barry, Nell, Joe and Kathy each scooted behind a driver and we took off. My driver's name, while I'm sure spelled different and hopefully has a different meaning, was "Ghoul". It was a bit terrifying, but fun. We went on to dirt roads and drove thru a cemetery until we got to our first destination, Ho Quyen Arena. They used to have tigers and elephants and men (oh my) fight each other there. You know, the good ol' days when people knew how to have fun. We then headed over to a little town where we saw how incense was made and also how they make the traditional pointy hats that you see them wearing in the field (and how if you hold them up to the sun you can see shadows of images.) Kathy & Evelyn tried to barter some fans for the three of us. They stood firm on 3 for 100,000 Dong but the lady insisted on 3 for 200,000 Dong. Considering that was $10 (so about $3 each), I was ready to cave but Kathy was wise an said no. We got them at another town for 3 for 150,000 Dong. The woman can barter!

Up next was the Tu Duc Tomb. Many beautiful buildings and sculptures. Go to the link for all the fun info. We ran into the others who had gotten there via boat and they looked a bit tired. They had had a 30 minute walk to get to the temple from the river. ugh. I was exhausted and I had just been riding on the back of a bike. After that, we head up to an overlook where we could see the mountains of Laos on the other side of the Perfume River (at least I think it was still the Perfume River.) Also up there were a few more turrets left over from the war (which they call the "American War" over here- makes sense.)

Then, it was time for lunch. We stopped at an orphanage (I think it was the Duc Son Orphanage) and, since it was run by male and female monks (can't remember what they call a female monk), it was vegetarian. Even this carnivore will admit it was damn good eating! If all vegetarian tasted like that, I'd be a vegetarian. I didn't take any pictures there, didn't feel right. Everything was very clean and sparse, and all the kids were off at school so the only ones we saw were the babies that were kept in another building. They ranged from 1 week old to about a year old. Everyone else went and found one to coo at and play with, but I just stood by the door. They were well fed, clean, and looked to be taken care of, but I was trying not to burst into tears and I knew if I touched one I'd start crying and make a fool out of myself. The 1 week old baby had bronchitis, and another baby, about 7 months?, had a tied tongue and they had problems feeding her. Ripped my hear out. I can see how Angelina Jolie is collecting one from each country.

We move on from there, hop back on the bikes, and take off to another small town where they have another Japanese Bridge, this one is the Thanh Toan Tile-Roofed Bridge. I took a quick glance at it, did a quick walk over, but had a more pressing thought- I needed a bathroom... now. Apparently eating healthy vegetables isn't necessarily a good thing for my crabby stomach. One lady kept trying to sell us drinks and finally I told her no, but I needed a bathroom. She grabbed my elbow and hurried me over to the other side of the "court" into her house. I glanced over my shoulder and Kathy and I exchanged "oh God" looks so at least one person would know where to find my body. She shows me the bathroom and I try to pay her money and she waves me off. I go in, shut the door, it won't shut and around the corner in the next room is her family. Oh well, whatever. I walk over to the toilet and have a nice look at the field behind their house since half the wall has fallen away. Oh well. I do my business, thankfully they had toilet paper (though I do carry my own over here) and tried to flush the toilet. "Tried" being the key word. The handle wouldn't work. I tried to get the lid off the tank to do it that way and I couldn't get the lid to move. I swallowed what little pride I had left and went out to ask the family for help. One girl came back with me and looked at the handle and shrugged her shoulders and motioned that it was fine, they'd figure it out. I handed her 10,000 (about 50 cent), which I'm happy that she took- especially after me leaving them like that, and went back out into the courtyard where the rest of the group was enjoying some beers. I sat with them for a couple of moments and then excused myself again to repeat my embarrassment. They gave me a weird look when I wandered back into their house and I quickly did my business, was still unable to flush, and left with more shame. I got back to the group and told them I was not doing well and they were cool and chugged their drinks and, after tipping the lady another 10,000, we hopped on the bikes and took off. Nothing like having a panic attack about finding a bathroom while clinging to the back of a scooter that is going thru the country roads of Vietnam. Ugh.

We get back to the hotel, and since we are leaving in a couple of hours for an overnight train to Hanoi, we only have two hotel rooms that we are allowed to use for showers. I decided to not be polite and grabbed one immediately. After we were all clean, we grabbed our bags, hopped on a bus and got to the train station. Luckily, we had had food delivered to us at the hotel right before we left so we were all carrying some yummy smelling Italian for dinner. The Italian food over here has been really good- I'm surprised. I had ordered a pepperoni pizza and I didn't care what my stomach thought, I was going to enjoy it. We ended up waiting at the train station for about an hour and half because the train was late. We got on board and I was sharing a 4 person "room" with Rita, Susan and Tini. We got as situated as we could (Monstro had to sit on the foot of my bunk because it wasn't squeezing underneath the bunks, ate our dinners, and settled in for a 10 hour train ride. Susan and Tini joined some of the others down in the dining car and sounds like they turned it into a bar and have fun. Rita and I crashed on our bunks and I watched "Grey's Anatomy" on my iPhone. I love having this thing with me. The girls came back around 10pm, Tini was pretty well sloshed, it was funny, and that was our exciting night.

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9th April 2010

Well... At least you never have to see those people again!!! XOXO
17th May 2010

You discovered Angelina was collecting and training the kids for secret kung-fu death matches?
Boat, scooter, train... You should star in a movie with John Candy and Steve Martin.

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