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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 156: Hoi An to Hué

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 9 April 2008 | Views [605]

Wednesday 9th April

I was up at 09.30, taking a lie-in after getting up in the middle of the night – yet again – to watch the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final between Liverpool and Arsenal (a great game but not the result I wanted). I got up, had breakfast, did some emailing before having some lunch. I got talking to the girl who worked in the travel agents for an hour while I waited for my bus to Hué, and it was interesting to chat to her. She explained how she never really had holidays from work and that the weekend didn't really exist for most people in Veitnam. I felt guilty when I told her that I was travelling around the world for a year, something that she could only dream of. She was a nice girl and she made me realise just how lucky I am.

The bus to Hué took just under four hours, getting into there at 18.00. My initial plan was to stop in Hué for the night and then move on to Dong Ha (a town 75km north of there) the next morning. I wanted to go on a motorbike tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which marked the border that was established between North and South Vietnam at the Geneva Conference of 1954. It was the site of several US Army bases during the war, and of several major battles between the two warring sides. On arriving in Hué, I asked the bus driver whether it was possible to head straight to Dong Ha, and it turned out that I could indeed do this.

It was another hour and a half to get to Dong Ha and I chatted to a French guy who had been working as a lawyer in Vietnam for several years. He was an interesting guy who was able to tell me something about the Vietnamese psyche, how they respected figures of authority and carried out orders that may not always be in the best interests of the people around them.

I got off the bus and asked the driver of the moto-taxi to take me to the oddly named 'Phung Hoang 2' hotel. The driver – a Mr Hoa – offered to take me around the DMZ on his motorbike the following day, telling me that he had served with the South Vietnamese Army during the war. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and I would have taken him up on his offer if I hadn't had an alternative, but he looked like he would have been about ten years old when the Americans pulled out of Vietnam in 1975.

After a much needed shower and a change of clothes, I went out for a walk about town but there wasn't a great deal to it or anything of interest going on. After a cheap dinner of noodle soup, I went back in the direction of the hotel, stopping off to book the DMZ tour at a local cafe. I had been given the name of a Mr Dinh by my Canadian friends Paul & Karine (who I had met on one of the treks in Laos), and I was able to speak to him on the phone, arranging to meet at 08.00 the next day. I went back to the hotel and got some sleep so I would be well rested for my history lesson the next day.


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