After spending a couple of days in Ninh Binh (nicknamed the Halong Bay of the paddy fields) we decided to travel south in search of some sun. We'll add more about Nihn Binh soon! The sleeper trains were full, so we thought we would give the overnight sleeper bus a try. Oh my goodness, what an experience! We now know what a heard of cattle being transported feels like & will not be doing another sleeper bus in Vietnam again.
We had a 4hr wait in Hue where we wandered around the crumbling, but very authentic Citadel for a while with some fellow sleeper bus passengers. Andy took on the role of 'Tour Guide' (minus the flag / umbrella) as we followed a walking tour from our Vietnam book. Hue's Citadel (Kinh Thanh), part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, was originally built between 1804-1834 as a moated imperial six suare mile enclosure containing over 300 buildings. It included the Palace of Supreme Harmony, various temples dedicated to the Nguyen Emperors, and an entertainment complex with its own opera house. Within the Citadel was the Forbidden Purple City (Tu Cam Thanh) which was a special area reserved only for the
Emperor, his family, his concubines and the non-threatening eunuch's. It was sadly heavily bombed by the Americans but we found remaining 10% very pleasant to wander around and the original building were really quite splendid.
It was very wet but we were in good spirits. We then got on a soft seated bus (thank goodness!) for the final part of the journey through the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) to Hoi An in central Vietnam. We were greeted off the bus by the friendliest Vietnamese people we had met on our journey so far. Although we arrived in a tropical storm and the rain seemed to be getting heavier by the minute, their friendly faces, big smiles and great service confirmed we had made the right decision to come here to see in the New Year.
We ventured out in dry clothes, sandals and ponchos (kindly bought for us by Mum & Dad J - thanks!) and waded through the flooded roads in search of the riverside parties. The rain had not put the travellers or holiday makers off and we headed for the liveliest bar in town. It was excellent and a night we will remember, however seeing in
Hoi An - New Year
Drowned Rats return after the celebrations.
the New Year without being with our usual crowd of friends was very sad and we are looking forward to having a 'Mid Year' party in June.
We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2009!
All Our Love
Andy & Claire
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