Saturday, 11 April 2009

Hue



Hue was the first stop on our hop on/hop off bus ticket we brought from Hanoi. Hanoi to Hue was a 14 hour trek heading south and was our first experience of a sleeper bus. It was nothing like the rubbish V.I.P buses we used in Thailand and worked out a 1/5 of the price. For $45 we have got sleeper buses with lie down beds all the way from north of Vietnam to the south hitting 5 different cities. It was great to think all our transport for the next few weeks had been completely sorted out for so little. Considering it cost $600 to travel from one side of Japan to the other, then again that was on the Bullet.

The bus journey was real nice, I feel asleep during "300", had some very epic dreams and woke up at 8.00am when we pulled into Hue. Hue was not somewhere I had ever heard of and the only reason I was there because it was included in five stop bus ticket. So when we rocked up I had absolutely no idea what was in this place and no idea what we would do to occupy ourselves over the next few days. We managed to find a hotel fairly easy for only $7 each a night so once we were all checked in a sat down and had a quick read of the Lonely Planet to build up some sort of itinerary for the next couple of days.

The first place we headed to was the Citadel. This was a huge complex in the middle of Hue which was home to most of Hues sights as well as a large majority of its residents. We jumped on the back of some motorbike taxis and made the short journey over to the Citadel. When we got there we had a brief look around some of the ruins and before we knew it we were out the other side. I wasn't really very impressed at what was in the main part of the Citadel, I guess I am just not a fan of ruins. Although the place was very odd, you had all these ruins of the old temples but just the right there were some brand new tennis courts! No idea what was going on there but it completely ruined the Citadel.

Once out the other side of the Citadel we decided to have a stroll around the main part of the Citadel to see what we could find. It turned out to be mainly the residential area within the Citadel. Therefore we decided we would intentionally get lost and just see where we ended up. We didn't really find anything but we did see Hue's residents going about their lives. At one point we got very lost and stumbled across a local indoor market. It soon became apparent that not many travelers end up in here as no sooner had we set foot in the market did a lot of head turn our way and a lot of commotion begin. Not that the situation was turning hostile or anything as several people tried to sell us things with big old smiles on their faces but we didn't really feel to comfortable there so decided to make a Sharp left and exit. On my way out though just as I was warning Tommy to watch out as the floor was slippy my completely grip less flip flops failed me and I nearly feel completely over onto the wet metal floor which was used to cut up all the animal meat. It could easily have turned into the most embarrassing moment of my life simply due to the large amount of local eyes fixed upon us.

At this point I have been traveling a little over 2 months and had not had my hair cut since I had left England, so it was about time I had a bit of a trim. I was walking around the back streets of the Citadel when a small Vietnamese man shouted from across the street offering his services as a hair dresser. I don't normally accept random offers from strangers for haircuts but considering the circumstances I made an exception. After a small amount of pointing and hand signals and asking him to use nothing but the thinning scissors he began hacking away at my hair. It was the cheapest hair cut I have ever had at the staggering figure of 30p and looking at it now I am quite pleased with it. I did have a feeling it would turn out a complete mess but I was pretty vocal while he was cutting directing him to do exactly what I wanted. As usual we had a brief chat about Manchester United as that is the only thing Asian men seem to know about England, which is handy as that's all I really know about football. I paid him his 4000 dong and headed on my way looking very dapper.

After that we didn't really do much. We grabbed some food and then just exploited the free Internet in the hotel we were staying at. This meant I spent the next 3 hours catching up with my blogging of Thailand as I had failed to do anything on it the whole time I was there. After one massive sesh I was pretty much update, which was a good feeling as I didn't want to start getting to far behind.

Day two in Hue was a lot more eventful. We had heard a great deal during our time in Thailand about the easy rider motorbike tours of Vietnam. These are pretty much customized tours where a local will either drive you around a city or either between cities which ever you desire as well as showing us any attractions you may want to visit. While I would have loved to have done an easy rider between cities we had already paid for all our transport on a nice safe bus and was not really in the mood for wasting any money. So instead we opted for a days tour around Hue on the back of motorbikes. For $8 each we got two motorbike guides who took us to a load of various sights in and around Hue. We went to such places as the The Thien Mu Pagoda, The Thien Mu Pagoda, The Tu Duc Mausoleum, The Incense making village and last and very much least the conical hat making village. It was a quality day though and the best bit was just hossing around on the motorbike seeing up close some of the Vietnam country side. Going over the Trang Tien bridge at rush hour, along river and up and down hills; some of the sights were quality. It felt pretty cool as well to think I was doing "Nam" on the back of a motorbike. Also getting to talk to some Vietnamese all day was cool, like in Japan, I learnt a lot more about the country spending a few hours with a local asking them all the questions I had about the places as well as them telling me about the the countries views and attitudes about things than I could have learnt doing nothing but museums and temples for a week.

Here are some photos from my time in Hue, mainly from the day on the back of a motorbike. Enjoy.


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