A short stay in Hue (Hway)

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, June 18, 2010

It was quite an early start again as we were catching the 7.30am bus to UNESCO heritage city of Hue.  We didnt have time to get any breakfast but looked forward to a huge lunch when we arrived.  Walking to our tour company, Sinh Cafe, where we would pick the bus up we ran in to the scary Hungarian who we had shared a dorm with in the Philippines and then saw him at the airport in Manila heading to Saigon.  It really makes you realise that the tourist trail is alive and well and it can be impossible to avoid!

We set off and after about half an hour we stopped at 'Marble Mountain' for a rest stop.  The area was full of shops selling all manner of marble items and we saw a huge horse sculpture being housed in a wooden crate ready for transporting - we wondered where it was destined for and who had had the space to buy it!  OK so maybe it could have fitted on our drive, but I'm not sure that would go down well with Ian and Jan and we probably do need space for a car on there after all.

A few people went in to the 'Cave' within the mountain, but as you had to pay we chose to give it a miss and had a can of Sprite and sat in the shade (the bus without aircon was not an option).  Back on the bus we were amazed by the amount of building work going on here along the coast, its everywhere and instantly made us think back to China.  Lots of luxury hotels and homes appearing which hopefully wont rip the soul out of the place, but I'm not convinced. 

We passed through Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city after Saigon and Hanoi, and saw 'China Beach where American soldiers were sent for 'R&R' during the Vietnam War.  We then followed Highway 1A up to the Hai Van Pass a very mountainous route through to Hue.  As we were on a bus we took the Hai Van Tunnel, the longest tunnel in South East Asia (6.28km), however I'm sure the boys from Top Gear took the old route on their bikes when they attempted the Saigon to Ha Long Bay journey.

We arrived in Hue at about lunch time, funny that, and where immediately set upon by hotel owners trying to fill their hotels.  After a bit of negotiation with one of them, and as we hadnt pre booked anything, we agreed to see one of his rooms and when he offered to refund all of our money (10 USD) if the electric went off once we agreed to stay (also prompted by the fact that we had a bath in the ensuite)!

After a bit of a rest in the airconditioned room we went to find food and have a bit of a look around.  We came across a backpacker friendly cafe 'Cafe on Thu Wheels' (Thu spelt Two) and had a tofu stir fry and a BLT between us.  We still hadnt planned how to tour the city so were easy pickings for Thu the owner who promptly signed us up for her motorbike tour.  Her cafe is decorated in graffiti from customers praising her business (and something to do with coconuts and bananas which we didnt get to find out about).  We are currently trying to work out which one of us will be Si and which one Dave off of the Hairy Bikers.

With quenched appetites we went back to the hotel for a sleep and a shower and to escape the unbearable heat.  We woke up after a few hours and felt hungry again somehow so went to the 'Manadarin Cafe' for a snack.  The owner is renowned for his photography which is fantastic and adorns the walls of the cafe.  We ordered spring rolls, chicken rice and 'banh khoai' the most famous Hue dish, a crispy thin pancake topped with prawns, squid, pork and beansprouts which comes served with peanut sauce and sesame sauce, yum.  We went to bed early to try to get up to watch the football at 1am again, again we wished we hadn't. 
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