No Way! We're in Hue!

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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What I did

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, November 30, 2012

As Hanoi trundles into the distance behind us, we settle down once again on a sleeper train. We have two elderly Vietnamese women for company in our cabin. Bizarrely they are sharing a single bed, tops-to-tails, and these beds are tiny. The cabin is crammed chock full of their stuff. We also have another man in our cabin on the bunk above the old ladies. We play some cards then settle down for the long journey to Hue (pronounced H-way).

We disembark the train at 8am (although we were awoken at 4:30am by our cabin mates, grrrr) and walk out into the sunshine of Hue. We skillfully dodge all the waiting transport touts and head out onto the road. Ian has been studying a map of Hue and is confident of making it to the hotel on foot. Straight out of the station and the first thing we need to do is cross a bridge. We see it. Oh no, it's full of workmen and not crossable. Bugger. We consult the map again. Anna says we need to go right. Ian makes the decision to go left and we start walking... only to be turned around and pointed in the opposite direction by some helpful locals a few minutes later. Anna stares at him smuggly. Now we are heading in the right direction the map starts to make sense and soon we are stepping into the hotel lobby.

Arriving in the hotel just after 9 (right on check-in time) we are offered breakfast as our room is being made ready. Following this we are shown to a room to shower and freshen up - as our room still isn't ready. The shower room is pretty grim with dirt and hair everywhere. Not to worry, we leave the bags and head out to have a walk around sunny Hue while they sort out a room. The hotel is really nice and the staff are very friendly, lets hope they can eventually find us a room...

We walk down to the riverside which has a long park running beside it. There's lots of greenery about and the park is filled with benches and stone sculptures. It is a peaceful contrast to the otherwise fairly busy city. We walk around the sculptures trying to avoid the boat-trip-touts and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. In need of a late morning beer after our long journey, we sit on the top floor of a huge floating restaurant, docked on the riverside, and survey the surrounding area. To the south of the river (the side we are on now) there are busy roads, shops and hotels. In contrast, the north side is dominated by an old walled city. This was the Citadel of the Emperor and within its walls is the Forbidden Purple City, which only the Emperor and his consorts could enter. The walled Citadel of Hue also featured in the war when it was captured and held for 3 weeks by the Viet Cong. The American army eventually bombed it, bringing the seige to an end but also destroying most of the buildings within the ancient citadel. We make plans to see the ruins tomorrow then continue down the river before heading into the nearby bustle of streets, finally finding our hotel again from a new angle.

When we arrive back at the hotel after midday, we are kept waiting again until 1pm. We have been waiting four hours for our room now and the hotel finally upgrades us to a better room with a balcony and extra bed. We settle in and rest before venturing out after dark, in search of food. Here, in central Vietnam, we find an authentic Indian Resturant! We eat a belly busting curry complete with poppadums and naan bread before staggering towards home. On the way back we have to stop at a chemist. Not for Ian, he has fought off the horrendous Malaria attack, but for Anna, who is coming down with a head cold, sore throat, sniffles and all. It seems the last few weeks of travelling has lowered both of our immune systems, we buy strepsils and hit the sack.
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