Once we'd arrived (at around 8am) we had a bit of sleep and headed for the citadel. Inside the 2m thick walls there are a great deal of things to see and a fascinating history to explore. The citadel has been battered by both war and cyclones yet the locals continue to rebuild the palaces and temples. The main gate provides great views of the Perfume River surrounded by the busy city.
Because the citadel has been destroyed so badly in parts it makes it difficult to see everything it has to offer. We wandered around for half an hour trying to find one particular place only to read that it had been levelled by bombing and we were stood right on top of it. The forbidden purple city, a citadel within the citadel, where the emporer only allowed himself and a few servants to be is now filled with scores of tourists falling into the potholes but admiring how spectacular the architecture is. The citadel can easily take more than half the day to look around.
On the second day we went on a Perfume River boat tour to explore the many tombs along the river bank. Firstly we visited a kung fu centre and were treated to a display. The most uncomfortable moment came when one guy placed a sort of spear into his neck then placed the butt on the floor and bent the pole at a 90 degree angle, then bizzarely drank a glass of water, show off.
On the way out we stopped by a little old lady who was gutting lizards she had caught by the side of the road. It wasn't until she picked up the second one that we realised she was killing live lizards. One guy in our group bought one for D15000 (60p) and spared the petrified little critter's life.
He had had lizards as pets and later released it in a tranquil buddhist temple, what a nice guy. The buddhist temple was home to the actual car that a man got out of in Saigon in 1963 and set himself on fire in the lotus position. He was protesting against discrimination of the religion.
We then travelled along the river to the Tu Duc and Minh Mang Tombs.
Minh Mang was particularly peaceful and scenic. The tomb of Minh Mang is located over a bridge in a gated enclosure which can not be accessed. On the way back to Hue we stopped at several other tombs but Charlotte and I and another couple of guys sat outside and drank some coffee in a little stall, there really are so many tombs you can see in a day, especially at D55000 each.
Hue's nightlife is pretty lively,
we had a terrible meal at La Caramel, the waiter apologised and said how busy they were, there were about five tables occupied! Charlotte recieved her meal without the rice, once she had finished they brought my meal out, once I had finished they brought Charlotte some fries (?) I asked for the bill and the waiter stated that he hadn't charged for the fries or the rice, bloody good job he didn't, we hadn't eaten any! Bar Why Not? is a great place to drink though.
The sleeper bus came to pick us up from Ninh Binh at around 10pm for the long drive to Hue. My heart sank as I stepped onto this rolling prison cell, the realisation dawning on me that I would be sleeping in a bed no bigger than a coffin. Not only that, I desperately hurried around the crowded aisles trying to find the best of a bad bunch but failed and soon found myself in a lazy Anglo-Vietnamese orgy. Charlotte and I lay on the upper deck, back row, five in a row. To my left a vietnamese couple who were way too confortable, to my right, Charlotte in danger of experiencing the same thing with the guy sat next to her. Looking scared, Charlotte linked her arm with mine, this was my seatbelt (the guy two beds down would be my airbag).