Arriving at Hue to a torrential down pour we were led to a $4 dollar taxi through the rain and from here to our hotel, the Hue Boutique Hotel. As we arrived at 9am they sat us down and focused on sorting us a room out. We’ve noticed the 2pm check ins mean little here as we’re usually given a room regardless of how many hours early we are.
They even offered us unlimited breakfast for a pound each while we waited. So we had eggs, fruit toast and pancakes! So good. Our room was ready so we traipsed up the old fashioned looking stairs and got to our spacious residence for the day.
Unfortunately the girls ar reception informed us it would be raining all day. Now we hadn’t realised this but I read in my lonely planet guide that this area of Vietnam has it’s own micro climate and we’re actually here in rainy season that runs from Oct to Nov. No idea why but we got our flip flops on ready for wading through the streets. Brollys up and faced down the rain.
Motorbikes whizzed by with ponchos on and we sidestepped the larger puddles and streams that had formed and headed in the direction of Hue’s premier site, the Imperial Citadel. Crossing the huge river that cuts Hue in half we wandered through the streets and over a most before arriving at the Citadel. Only it was closed till one thirty. At this point the rain was only getting heavier so we briskly walked over to some small shacks across a field.
The owner urged us in, before we realised the whole family was in and eating their lunch. They motioned us to sit, and went about making us strong iced coffee with condensed milk, green tea and served us up some sesame Turkish delight type sweets. Everything was really good and we had entertainment in the form of four puppies and a weird Vietnamese quiz show on tv.
The time passed quickly so we paid up and went back to the Citadel. There was no one to pay so we hesitantly went in, found someone and paid 20,000 Dong when we were expecting 120,000. There were some tanks, planes and helicopters that the Vietnamese had acquired from the Americans in the war on the left, and a couple of buildings further on with museums about the war in them.
As we looked around I read up on what we should be looking at in my book before a sense of confusion overtook me. The buildings here didn’t mirror the map, and the way in certainly didn’t ‘quicken the pulse’ as lonely planet put it. It was then I realised we weren’t in the Citadel. In fact where we were didn’t even warrant a mention in the guide. Sheepishly we walked out past the people we had paid and, seeing the actual gates of the Citadel 5 minutes further down the road, we walked over.
The Citadel itself was built in the 1800s but was heavily bombed by the U.S. in the war and is now undergoing extensive restoration works. The gate is fully formed and very impressive, a video just inside the next building showed us what it would’ve been like at the height of the empire. Elephants and Emperors entering through different gates. The rest of the buildings were a mish mash of interesting, dull and half built. It was nice to wander round and maybe if it was sunnier it would’ve been better, but it wasn’t that exciting. One day when it’s fully restored it will be beautiful though.
It was around 4pm and we decided to go for a late lunch at a place recommended in my guide. The stop and go cafe. It was a quirky little place where people had written all over the walls which had a few pictures of local sights dotted around. We ordered 3 Hudas, the local beer, some fresh spring rolls and mains. I went for papaya salad, Leia had chicken noodles and Liam had sesame pork with sticky rice. It was all very tasty, lots of fresh flavours and big portions. It also amounted to around £4 each. Vietnam is so cheap for food and drinks, especially given the quality of the meals.
We dried off a bit in the cafe but we’re still damp with sore feet so we went back to the hotel. As we walked through a random man screaming HEEELLLLOOOOOHHHH!! came bounding over to us trying to sell his works of art, he was hilarious and I would’ve got one for the pound price if I could carry it knowing it wouldn’t have been ruined over the next 4 weeks.
We moved on but Leia and Liam needed toiletries, while they sorted that I went back to the hotel. As I was walking along a man on a bike stopped beside me to tell me he had girls for sale at very low cost per hour. I declined in a stern manner but he continued to follow me up the street, this time letting me know the girls he had were nice and young!
It was pretty shocking that he was shouting this out on the street and I think he saw the anger in my face so he pulled away sharpish. Again it brought up issues of the sex trade in Asia and how they perceive westerners (Due to the fact everywhere we go there are OAP westerners with young Asian girls).
Back in the hotel we relaxed for a bit watching films and then went into the night to DMZ bar, a favourite haunt of travellers and somewhere we knew would have the Everton game on.
We got there, ordered our 70p Huda beers and played some pool. I somehow managed to pot the black and white to give Liam the win before Leia disposed of Liam’s challenge. I then managed to beat Leia with a cheeky shot to pot the black. It was fun and I think knowing your not that great but just playing for a laugh is always good. The people working at the bar frequently laughing at our dodgy attempts.
We sat back down and got chatting to a couple of guys travelling from New Zealand but heading the opposite way to us. Half chatting away and half watching Everton demolish Sunderland we somehow got to 10pm and knew we were up at 7am. I could’ve stayed for another couple of cheap beers especially when we got the bill and realised 14 beers had cost £8!!
We stopped off at a bakery for a late evening snack and went to bed. We were ready for the next stop on our whirlwind tour, Da Nang, a place we have been told conflicting reports about. Either there’s nothing there or loads to do. Either way, it’s the 5th largest city, has a bridge shaped like a Dragon and if the sun comes out, our first beach!