Day 5 – Hue

27 Feb

The train had cooled sufficiently for me to grab a very comfortable 6 hours of sleep.  Lying quietly whilst the Australians had their breakfast was bliss. I then managed to tuck into a veritable banquet of mangosteen, banana, croissant with jam, pate and bread.

Dave and Peter (the Australian) were keeping each other “entertained” while his wife and I rolled our eyes at them. They were both spending the next day on the train as they were on their way home via Saigon.

The fields rolled by with many rice farmers & buffalo in sight.

Vietnamese trains never run on time as there is only one track and the trains have to wait in each station whilst the train pases in the other direction.  Thankfully we were only one hour late arriving in Hue (pronounced h-way) and disembarked quickly.  Not everyone remembered that their bag and the train corridor were the sizes that they were.

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The hotel greeted ua with a glass of juice and a freshing towel. I ended upwith afront facing window in my twin room.The shop next to our hotel was recommended as a place for both laundry and food.  After freshening up, we started an influx of our group with a very tasty chicken fried rice and crispy veggie spring rolls.

We had a chance to wander and Karen and I grabbed the map and headed over the Perfume River which separates both sides of Hue. The traffic here was quieter than Hanoi, but still manic.  It was unusual to see bikes stopping at traffic lights.  That would never have happened in Hanoi.

We returned on time, much to both our surprise, ready for the group tour on a boat up the river to a pagoda.  Every boat seems to have its fair share of tat, and this one was no exception. I did purchase a rather fashion cringing fan – practical rather than anything else.  It may not return to the UK. Picked the cleanest colour (purple). Others bought silk products including shirts and kimonos and, of course, beer! It is very cheap after all – 50p per can.

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Arriving at the pagoda, we had to cross an almost freshly laid tarmac road, avoiding the steamroller. This is an important point for later.

The guide droned on about the various aspects of the site and we moved on the a temple where we needed to remove our shoes. On returning, I sat down to put my shoes on and apparently sat on some tar that others had had on the soles of their shoes. This produced much guffawing from Jacky and pictures of my bottom were taken. Apparently I completely missed the monks and other cultural artefacts because of this. I do however know what a frangipan tree now looks like. And also saw the car of the famous Monk that burned himself in 1963.

Leaving the pagoda, we met the “cyclotour”, which were 17 men in threw wheeled contraptions, which we then realised were about to take us onto the public road. Next to the bikes.  And the non existent traffic rules. And the bikes. But mostly the bikes.  My man had absolutely no racer mentality at all and was happy to stay near the back. He was probably on extra oxygen with the extra weight he was having to push. He did however know a few English words – Temple, Hotel & Market.  That pretty much sums up Hue, so was all he needed.  It is a very peaceful place.  Except for the bikes.

I had to video the cyclotour going around the roundabout.  I had to watch it back as I think I had my eyes closed the first time. Did I mention the bikes?

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Nerves jangling but intact, we arrived back at the hotel and had a few minutes to prepare before heading out to a vegetarian restaurant.  I’ll say that again for those that know me well. A VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT. Making matters worse, our guide had pre ordered. I passed the time imagining the food was really meat. As you can see below, the pig shaped deep fried mushroom (top left) was really pork.

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Use your imagination!
I also managed some chicken (tofu) but had to draw the line at “morning glory”

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We headed back by taxi to the hotel and several of us decided to attempt to order a drink at the bar in the foyer. As per usual, I asked for the local Vietnamese drink.  This was thankfully rum (29%), which was carefully measured out. I also received a free Vietnamese vodka.  This was poured from a 5l plastic container suitable for water – or petrol.

We had a bit of trouble ordering another round though and resorted to Google Translate.  The bar stewardess, who looked about 12, became very friendly with us all and laughed hysterically at the Vietnamese translations.  She could read the English though. We moved upstairs to the fifth floor bar terrace, with Cloud following us as our personal bar steward. She certainly got the hang of a gin and tonic. A round of double measures for 7 people cost £15.

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Staggered into bed after 3 rounds and a couple of free vodkas in between.

Conversation had been suitably rowdy.  Dave seems fixated on “Happy” everything for some reason.

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