Cool Riders

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Dec 24, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We are all quite sad to leave Hoi An as it would have easily filled another day wioth just wandering around, but nevertheless we have to get going on the 4 hour bus journey to Hue.
We stop twice along the way. The first is at Ngu Hanh Son, a collection of pagodas and temples built on a mountain side and in caves within it, which provides some pretty stunning sights.
The second is halfway through the journey when we have started to climb into the mountains, with some pretty hairy driving around hair pin bends with shear  prativally verttical drops on one side. The stopping place is a pass over the mountains that enables you to see the 2 seas either side. it is frequented by all the tour groups trveling this route and as a result we are mobbed by dozens of ladies trying to pull us into their shops the moment we step off the bus. Mostly they are persistent but well humoured about it; One lady strokes Jo's tattoo and says "very nice but maybe when you get married your husband will be angry". When Jo tells her that she doesn't think that will be a problem the lady mutters "Ah, modern country..." as she wanders off to tug at another tourist. 

When we arrive in Hue we have only one afternoon to probably sight see so we are put stright on the back of a motorcyle each after lunch, ready to complete our 4 hour tour. It is a brilliant way to see the city and we love every minute of it (we decide we must get on another motorcyle while we are in SE Asia from this moment onwards). 
The first stop is the city's famous 7 tiered pagoda which is very nice but the most interesting thing there is the car used by the first monk to burn himself in protest against religeous discrimination of the South Vietnamese leader. (backed by the US)
Next we wind down tiny streets, through traffic ridden intersections and accross dirt tracks through villages, high fiving kids along the way. The bikes suddenly slow down through a beautiful cemetry (that seems to come out of no where) and after we climb to a high point with beautiful views of the perfume river. 
We later stop by a small dusty village and are ushered inside the home of an agent orange affected woman, who has become famous foir teaching herself to make conical hats with just one fully functioning arm. We all crowd in and sit on tiny plastic chairs (which always make 6 foot 5 Fabian look like the BFG) and watch her work, while a villager with his little baby girl wave to Claire from outside. Watchig her work is amazing, her one arm is missing the forearm and the stump has one tiny finger which she uses to hold the needle while she constructs perfect conical hats. In between two layers of leaves she places coloured newspaper that she has cut into the shape of the sillouette of Hue. Once the hat is finished, if you hold it to the light you can see a shadow of the Hue skyline, along with her signature next to it. The hats cost $2. 
We finish the tour with a drive to the countryside, where we see a duck farmer herding hundreds of ducks down a river and people working on the fields and finally an ancient Vietnamese covered bridge. 
After dinner in the evening we go to the DMZ bar, again joined by Mr Bucket. After requesting 'Roxanne' by the police to be played, Livia screams "Rooooooooooooxaaane" in her thick Swiss accent over most of the next dozen songs. We get back to the hotel late, and feel bad for having to wake up the staff sleeping in the foyer. Woops.
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