Who knew karaoke could be so risque?

Trip Start Jan 19, 2005
Trip End Feb 23, 2005

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Today was our only full day in Hue. As a result, I didn't want to waste my time by walking the streets. From what I saw of it last night, it seemed rather unexciting. Big wide roads with very few people.

So rather than subject myself to boredom, I boarded a boat and headed up the Perfume River.

We jumped on a boat designed specifically for tourists... it was big, colourful, shaped like a dragon, and pretty darn slow ( ...this way we could just float along and watch life pass us by).

We headed out of Hue and puttered along for a little over an hour. Our first stop was to be a pagoda. Now upon hearing that we'd be seeing another pagoda, I really wasn't that excited. There are plenty of them down here, and I think I've just about been pagoda'd-out. But in all actuality, it was quite a nice surprise. As soon as it came into view, I was smitten. We ground ashore, climbed the steps, and stood looking up at the awe-inspiring tower in front of us. One could have sworn they had been transported back 300 years ago. It looked fairly rustic but still in remarkable shape. It turns out, however, that it's only three years old! I guess they restored it a few years ago, and that's why it looks as good as it does. Knowing that kind of ruined it for me... but it was still nice to see.

There were other buildings and temples around the pagoda as well. We watched monks perform some sort of chanting ritual. Also, there was an old car from the 1960s (I believe) stored near the back lawns of the place. Apparently, this car was used to transport a monk to his death. I guess he was driven to some locale where he committed suicide by lighting himself on fire. It was meant to be in protest of the American War. I remember seeing a photo at the War Museum (Saigon) of a burning monk. It was really quite graphic. I'm pretty sure it was the same guy that had been in the car.

We boarded the boat again and headed off to the tomb of an emperor from the 19th century. His name had been Tu Duc. I was a little disappointed by this site. I didn't know what to expect of the place, but I found it to be very similar to a number of other buildings I have seen during my travels in Vietnam.

Hopping on motorcycles, we made a 15 minute trip back to Hue.

The evening promised to be interesting, but in reality it was a bit of a let down. A girl from our tour group was having a birthday, so we decided to go out for a little karaoke to celebrate. Our tour guide, Lam, suggested a bar and claimed it was "the best karaoke bar in Vietnam". (Side note: he seems to say a lot of things are "the best in Vietnam")

Well when we entered the bar, it was pitch black. All you could make out were rows of leather seats and in the odd seat, you could see the silhouette of two people. Hmmmm, seemed a little suspicious. It turns out that many karaoke establishments also double as brothels. Truly bizarre!

We continued on through the darkened room to the back of the building and found our own karaoke room. Nobody was too eager to sing and was kind of in a foul mood after witnessing such a spectacle. We sang several songs and then called it a night. I'm proud to say that I crooned a mean version of "Mack the Knife". Bobby Darin would have been proud. Actually to my surprise, many of my group members were quite impressed with my singing... and the karaoke machine scored me a 98 out of a 100 (whatever that means).

So, after the karaoke bar put a damper on the evening, we tried to have a good time at two other places, but failed miserably. It was quite an early night for this group.
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