Away to Hue
07.01.2008 - 09.01.2008 27 °C
We finished up our Hoi An visit by dropping in on a private historic house that is opened to the public by its retired mathematics teacher owner. It has been in his family for six generations and it was fascinating to hear him tell his story (all be it in a sort of Vietnamese-French version of English) of living through feudal, French colonial, wartime and communist times. He said as a Maths teacher (well... Mathematics is Mathematics) he was able to continue when the south became part of the north.
After lugging all the shopping to the bus parking area, we boarded a bus to Hue. Same, same with the bus trip but this time it was danger + mountains. We managed to get ourselves to the hotel and went for a meal at a great restaurant that had a group of traditional Hue musicians playing as we dined. The next day we engaged the Madame Thu "Thu Wheels Tours" folk to put us on the back of motor scooters and take us for a spin around some of the Hue sights. We visited some fascinating Buddhist pagodas, listened to monks going through a mantra or two, visited an ancient covered bridge amongst the paddy fields, went to a tomb of one of the Nguyen emperors and generally had a good time.
After this, we decided we might go on a boat trip on the not-so-appropriately named Perfume River. It looks quite nice from a distance and we presumed the boat would take us up past some of the sites we had visited earlier in the day. The husband and wife team on the boat took us up one of the canals to pick up and drop off their children before continuing on to show us all of the things that are definitely left out of the tourist brochures. We seemed to be cruising at about exactly the same time as all of the boat inhabitants were attending to their daily ablutions. It was really something else ... and more. The boat then seemed to putter along at an even slower pace while the lady went to work on us with the merchandising. She sold us some small embroidery and art pieces but we had to do a pretty loud NO when she got to the silks. It was not the most scenic journey but it certainly gave us an insight to some of the ongoing poverty in Vietnam. The man on the boat kept telling us in the little English that he had how "Hue was not beautiful .... Vietnam not beautiful ... they put their rubbish in the river ...". In the morning we got up early to visit the Citadel and old city area. Although this is fairly damaged, it was very interesting.
We then took a flight to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines. It was very luxurious and enjoyable (particularly when compared to buses, trains, etc.).