Hoi An to Hue

Trip Start Mar 31, 2012
Trip End Apr 21, 2012

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 10: Hoi An to Hue - 9th April 2012

Apart from one day in which we received some light rain, we have been blessed by fine clear weather with temperatures ranging from 27-32 degrees Celsius during the day. This morning is no exception as we depart our hotel in Hoi An at 7:50pm. After a short drive to Marble Mountain, our group explores the area renowned for its marble carvings of all shapes and sizes. We view workers with jack hammers cutting into large blocks of marble and others using grinders and cutting stones to shape and carve the beautiful marble pieces. Since marble is no longer extracted from the mountain, the carvings we see are from marble drawn from elsewhere.  

After a walk through the display of fine carvings, most of the group re-board the bus to move on and climb the 140 odd steps up Marble Mountain. The steps are to be taken slowly as the rate of ascent is quite steep and the treads a little higher than most steps to which we are accustomed. With a few 'breather stops' on the ascent, the group reaches the top and finds one of several pagodas set on the mountain. The mountain itself consists of several caves, some of which housed hospital facilities for the Viet Cong during the American conflict. Our group explore narrow passages and caves set into the mountain and stand in awe as we reach the final cave and view a large carving set high up in the rock face. There are many temples and places of worship within the cave, hewn out of its marble walls.  A shaft of light bears down into the cave from a hole in the ceiling, created by a bomb dropped on the mountain during the American conflict.  

After an hour and a half we move onto Da Nang where we stop for a brief visit to the Cham Museum. Thai, our guide explains the history of the Cham people to the group.

From here we travel up the Hai Van Pass. Hai meaning Sea and Van meaning cloud -  the mountain between cloud and sea. Today the pass is covered in cloud as we reach the summit and briefly stop to view the remains of the look-out embattlements. There is also another way to travel here – a tunnel takes traffic from one side of the mountain to the other. During bad weather the pass is closed and all traffic must use the tunnel. Those travelling by motor bike must stop at the entrance to the tunnel, have their bike loaded onto a truck and, after payment of a fee, are also transported by truck from one side of the mountain to the other, a distance of almost six kilometres. This is to prevent accidents due to any build up of petrol or diesel fumes within the tunnel.

After another comfort stop (Vietnamese style) the group arrive at Hue around 2:30pm for luncheon at the Y Thao Garden restaurant. This is a restaurant renowned for fine food, beautifully presented by its award winning chefs. It is also a teaching school for apprentice chefs in the Hue area.

Hue has a population of 696,000 people and is situated alongside the Perfume River. There is a week- long festival held every two years in Hue and our group are in luck as we have arrived right in the middle of the festival. The city is a mass of people with artists/musicians of various genre and countries taking part in the festival.

Because of our late arrival, we change plans slightly and decide to visit the Citadel the next day. We check into the Heritage Hotel and agree to meet with Thai later that evening to wander down to the river front and view the festivities. In the meantime, some have a swim in the rooftop pool whilst others of the group just relax in their room.

At 7:15 p.m. after a short walk, the group joins the mass of people along the river front and I find it hard to keep track of where everyone is as we get caught up in this mass. We finally make it to a quieter area and decide to go back to our hotel at 8:45pm.

Due to the late lunch and the delicious food served at the Y Thao Garden restaurant, no one is really hungry so I arrange for drinks and a few servings of spring rolls to be served in the foyer of the hotel before we turn in at 9:45pm.

Our start in the morning is scheduled for 7:45am.  
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Pam and Steve on

Hi Deb, Peter, Marie & Jeff Recieved your text and passed it on to mum and dad. Look forward to the entries every few days. Sounds like you are all enjoying your holiday. Wish we were there.

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