Anthony and Erica on the road to Mandalay 2006 travel blog

Nun at Tu Hieu

Monks doing their stuff at Tu Hieu...see the golden helix rising from...

The novices at Tu Hieu all had strange eighties hair cuts...

Gardens at Tu Hieu Temple

Nuns and monks at Tu Hieu Pagoda

The Japanese Bridge, Hue - note sleeping man

Hue back rivers

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Tu Hieu monks

Less of a hangover this morning, must be building up a tolerance to the local brew. A bargain at about 40p a litre. And lo and behold, it's not raining! Saying that though, typhoon Durian (that has killed several hundred people in the Philippines already) is due here tomorrow. Mmmm....

So breakfast at Thu's and arranged with one of her numerous family to drive me around on his motorbike to check out some other places round here. It was great, and let me say unequivocally that I should have done that in the first place rather than go on the boat, even if the bike costs more. It keeps you cool, I saw loads of different bits of Hue and the area around it, there were little or no crowds - I was often the only person there - and I had complete control over how long I spent anywhere and when I wanted to stop to take pics. It was hair-raising at times - and no crash helmets, thankfully - but worth every dong (the local money).

First we went to a local monastery called Tu Hieu, first bit of Buddhism I have seen in Vietnam. It was great, a beautiful place, and the monks and nuns were doing their stuff too, which was good to watch. Then a couple of atmospherically ruined mausoleums, another go at Tu Duc without the rain, a nice covered Japanese bridge and a little visit to a house that the revered Ho Chi Minh lived in for a couple of years as a child. For those who don't know, he led the side that threw the Americans out in what we call the Vietnam War. Round here he is known as Uncle Ho, and often pictured with happy children, which is a little disingenuous, as he could be a right bastard to his enemies.

Back to town for more of the rolled up food dipped in peanut sauce thing. Booked my bus ticket out of here as well. In Vietnam they have this thing called open tour buses, which recognises the fact that nearly everyone comes in one end of the country and goes out the other, indeed, one of the opening traveller questions is often are you going north or south? These buses are like tour buses in that they visit places, but also like proper buses in that they go from one city to another and do not return to the beginning. Best of both, really. Even better is that you can get them from one end of the country to the other and get on and off as you please, though you need to book your seat each time.

However, the rest of my afternoon was slightly marred by work, believe it or not, in that I had till Dec 8th to get a quote in on a needs assessment for Kent. This was hard to do without all the stuff on my home PC, and hard to take seriously when I would rather be riding a pushbike round the Old City, but such is life, I will need the money and I probably won't have much other free time over the next few days. So I got over this by having exactly the same gorgeous Indian meal as I did last night, and drinking lots of beers in Thu's place, mostly talking to an interesting though very drunk Australian 19 year old called Chris (which appears to be THE Australian name, not Bruce).

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