Tour of Asia - 2007-2008 travel blog

How to get the most out of your bicycle

Our miniscule train cabin with one of our less than fresh cell-mates

One of the two weddings at our Hue Hotel

The usual audience gathers as Bruce magically whips a bike out of...

One of the bellhops at the Hue hotel test driving Bruce's bike

The Minh Mang tomb

The Khai Dinh tomb

And, of course, the Tu Duc tomb (I am NOT making these...

Bruce has a go at making incense and makes a real floppy...

This is incense laid out to dry

There are still some wonderful parts of the old Citadel left to...

About 2 dozen 'baby monks' chanting at the Pagoda of the Heavenly...

Somebody has to make all those conical hats we see everywhere in...

Our tourist dragon boat on the Perfume River

They start kids young here, learning the family business. This one is...

A quick family meal at roadside

Wedding guests arrived at our hotel in all their finery and had...

And we thought WE were riding with too much stuff! That's a...

Cyclos are a bit different in Hue from those in Hanoi. These...


Okay........... admittedly I didn't sleep well last night - we were on the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue - and I've got a stinking cold (thanks Bruce!) and my head is pounding but right now I AM FED UP with the constant barrage of NOISE that assaults us at all hours of the day and night.

I guess I'm a bit disappointed because I couldn't wait to get out of Hanoi and away from the cacophony of bikes, taxis and cyclos constantly honking and hooting. So, after a very fitful night in a tiny cell, I mean, 'cabin' on the train that we shared with a German couple (who were, shall we say, a tad 'ripe'?), we eventually arrived at our hotel in Hue and it's very nice, but wouldn't you know it? It turns out that we're staying at Wedding Central. There was a wedding going on right under our window at the hotel when we arrived. The speakers, naturally, were turned up to top volume (therefore somewhat distorted) and, interspersing the manic MC hollering into the microphone there was a painfully off-key female singer screeching over the loudspeakers. That was yesterday. Today we were out touristing for the whole day and came back to the hotel to find a complete copy-cat wedding under way right below us yet again. It's funny - this entire army of wedding guests arrives, all tricked out the way wedding guests do and carrying huge presents, but they all arrive on motorbikes.

I'm really struck by the similarity between this wedding venue, though, and the ones that assailed us until 4 in the morning in Romania, the first one eing at a campsite and then the following night there was one at our hotel. It's all pink: sweeping arches of pink balloons in a heart shape, pink covers with big bows on the backs of the chairs, pink table settings. and pink, pink, pink over-the-top decorations everywhere, but yesterday's wedding party itself was quite interesting. The bride was wearing a lovely lace ao dai (the traditional Vietnamese form-fitting long tunic over a pair of silk pants) and her attendants (both male and female) were all in Vietnamese costume, too. Haven't seen today's wedding party - we can only hear them. Same thing, different day.

Bruce gathered his usual audience outside the hotel as he was putting his bike together then the bellhops each gave it a test drive which was kind of funny because the saddle was much too high for them, which caused a bit of an undignified dismount for each.

Today we took a City tour that lasted all day long. It was actually very interesting. In the morning we visited three tombs of Kings: the Minh Mang tomb, the Khai Dinh tomb and Tu Duc's tomb, each one quite different from the other and our guide was very pleasant and informative, too. We stopped to watch a woman making incense and Bruce had a go at it. Didn't do too badly, either - he just made it a little too fat and it kind of flopped over instead of staying upright. Lunch was included, then it was back on the bus to see the Citadel, a huge walled complex some parts of which were started around 100 B.C. It's a fascinating place, but very sad to see that a huge part of it was bombed (flattened) by the Americans in the "American War" in 1967, under the pretext that they had 'weapons of mass destruction' - - oh sorry, that's another story - wrong theatre of operations. In 1967 it was because they thought there were Vietcong holed up in this incredible historic site - so they simply destroyed something that had stood for centuries.

After the Citadel we went to Thien Mu Pagoda (the Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady) where we watched and listened to about 2 dozen kids chanting with a couple of monks, then we climbed on board a weird looking boat, a catamaran that was tricked out with a couple of dragon's heads on the prows, and came back down the Perfume River to the city of Hue. It was a good outing.

So tomorrow morning, bright and early, Bruce starts his ride to Danang and I'll get on my bus to meet him there.

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