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Experiences in Asia

Hue: The thinking man's city

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 6 December 2005 | Views [808] | Comments [1]

Well done to Hue for claiming top spot in Tinsley's best visited south east Asian city so far (sorry Hanoi). Why do I like it? To be honest, I can't really put my finger on it. There are certainly reasons to hate it, for example, each day it's rained for hours and hours at a time and I don't think I have seen blue sky yet. Then there are the legendary cyclo drivers who masterfully engage you in conversation before brain washing you into accepting a cyclo ride that you don't really need. For all this though, I REALLY like the place, and could easially, happily (and willingly, sorry mum) do a year's teaching here. Hue is divided in two by the perfume river. It's population is only around 300,000 and I think there is only one main university. There are many side streets sharing space with street stalls, family restaurants and (slightly) trendy coffee bars. Boats nip up and down the river, dropping off many women here and there, all sporting the famous conical hats, made famous in Hue.

I suppose Hue's ace is the dact that it is another of Vietnam's UNESCO world heritage sites. It was the capital from 1802 to 1945, and it has many crumbling palaces, Citadels and tombs of past Nguyen Emperors to explore. These are really facinating because they are easy to get lost in. I spent hours in the Citadel wandering. Some of the people are also very friendly. For example, the owner of my hotel showed me a double room for $6. I asked him whether he had a single for $4, he said he didn't, but that I was welcome to stay in the $6 room whilst paying $4 - accomodating, don't you think! Yesterday I was up at 8am to the sound of rain battering against my window. Not put of by this, I got ready and headed for breakfast. I was quite happy at 8.15am, under a canopy down a side street slurping "pho-bo" or beef soup with noodles (super tasty) and eating a baguette, watching life go by. The small plastic seat started to give my rear grief after about 40 minutes, so I took this as my que to get up and get on with it. My first stop was to the Citadel, or imperial city. It was heavily bombed in the war, but the core was still intact, and with recent reconstruction it is really a grand sight. Around the Citadel are the imperial gardens, fisheries, mini lakes and ceremonial halls. The thing that got me annoyed a little though was the price of the ticket. At D55,000, it's reasonable at $5, but this is the price for foriegners. The Vietnamese pay a fraction of this price. I understand the difference in wealth between western people and the natives, but I just felt like a human cash register as I was shunted from the domestic ticket line to the super sexy foriegner line. Feeling that I was owed some good Karma back, I cheekily took some pictures inside the grand hall, photography though banned - everybody happy then!

After the citadel I roamed the huge market, stepping in god knows what as it was a bit of a swamp due to the rain. Then, after buying a conical hat (they're waterproof you know) to combat the rain, I stopped by a cafe on the river for a coffee and a banana pancake to study some Japanese - all in all, a great day! That was my last day on my own for a while, because this morning the Dutch girls got into town and knocked on my door early. Also, some friends that I met in Vientiane will get to Hue tomorrow, so it looks as if I won't be spending my 26th birthday on my own! Many thanks to Nina & Eve for buying me the print as an early birthday present, it is really beautiful, and I will treasure it. Today, an easy day. Tomorrow we might do a ride along the perfume river and then hire mopeds with a deaf and dumb chap called Mr. Lac, who is famous in this town - he is even referenced in the Lonely Planet - he is something of a legend here, and after meeting him he intimated that we could get on bikes to see some more of the fab sights. In the next few days we'll all be off to Hoi An, but I'll post a note before then. Take care..........

Tags: Adventures



miss U .. hope U well

  Winnie Dec 6, 2005 11:13 PM

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