After arriving bleary eyed from the overnight train from Hanoi we caught a taxi to our hostel and arrived at about 11am. Right away they took our bags and invited us to sit down, use the W/C and brought us a large breakfast. We hadn't even checked in yet! Remember this is a hostel where we're paying well under $10/night per person. I still can't get over this country. Feeling much better after eating something and using the W/C we didn't expect to check in since that wasn't until 12 or 1. We started to get up to walk around outside but the front desk folks told us they got a room ready lickety split and we were quickly ushered upstairs to the 3rd floor to a spacious and beautiful private room. After a hot shower we felt re-energized so decided to walk around town and explore. At the front desk they gave us two maps and pointed us in the direction of the market across the bridge. We were on the hunt for sunscreen and bug spray as the temperatures were warming up the further South we went so she also recommended a grocery store in the same area. Off we went walking along the river fending off eager hawkers wanting to take us for a cyclo, moto, taxi or boat ride. The weather was spectacular, a balmy 23 degrees C with a light breeze. We took our time finding the footpath across the bridge and then enjoyed the local market. Looping back we found the local grocery store and floor 2 sold all of the household items. It took us a bit since no one spoke English to find the sunscreen and the bug spray. I found it funny that every lotion and cream advertised it's 'whitening' power. Apparently the culture over here is to have the whitest skin possible. As long as it has SPF I'm happy. Successfully locating our items we also passed by the souvenir section and couldn't resist a few things. I love seeing the price tags with like 6 digits but it costs like $2 US.
In the mood to relax outside with some beverages we headed back across the bridge to our neck of the woods and found a popular backpacker restaurant for some local beers and lunch. After eating and drinking our fill I was quite tired from all of the previous night's events on the train so we headed back to the hotel for a siesta. En route we came across a number of silk shops and I found some items I'd been eying in Hanoi but were pretty pricey. They cost half as much here in Hue so I went ahead and purchased a few after looking at a few shops and letting Dave bargain so he felt like he was part of the shopping, too. Now I felt excellent with recent purchases in hand and we made it back to the hotel for a siesta.
I meant to lie down for just a bit but a good 3 hours later I woke up and it was dark out and Dave was patiently writing the blog. We got dressed again and headed out in search of dinner or evening entertainment. A few blocks from our hotel was a restaurant recommended in our Lonely Planet guide (which, by the way, every single other person is carrying around here) so we headed in that direction. Along the way we found the popular backpacker section - the official Hue Backpacker Hostel, bars, cafes and restaurants. The restaurant we'd previously picked out was completely empty while others were packed full. Wary of being the lone diners we opted for a nearby place instead and were treated to a guitar and singing performance by a table of very drunk locals next to us. We each had some noodle soups that were good and cheap but nothing spectacular. We then decided to call it a night and headed back to our lovely room at the Hue Nino.
The next morning we slept in, packed up and checked out right at the noon checkout time. Even though it was so late the hotel insisted on feeding us a hot breakfast. We had about an hour afterwards until our open bus to Hoi An would come to pick us up, so we ventured out to explore a bit more and enjoy another beautiful day. We returned to the hotel to catch our bus and the nice folks at the hotel told us it was better to wait in their lobby. Meanwhile, they brought us bottles of water to enjoy (although I held off as the 4-5 hour bus ride was approaching and I didn't know what the W/C situation would be like). While waiting, a nice Canadian couple was enjoying breakfast. I overheard that they had just come from Hoi an so I asked them how it was. The girl immediately jumped up, started giving us loads of recommendations and giving us business cards of hotels, restaurants, tailor shops, shopping, etc. They talked to us for about 20 minutes about the great things to enjoy in Hoi An before they went up to their room. We thought it was so nice of them to spend that much time giving us advice and recommendations. Score for the Canadians again! Shortly afterwards, the hotel staff let us know the bus had arrived out on the main street and they escorted us. We stowed our luggage beneath the bus and enjoyed the fresh breeze on a beautiful day on the winding roads of the coast of Vietnam from Hue all the way to Hoi An, about a 4 hour ride. Although I enjoyed the scenery of farms, rice paddys, small towns and mountains, the driver liked to use his horn every 2.4 seconds and it was a very high-pitched horn. I listened to chapters 17-26 of the Glass Castle (still really enjoying it!) and Dave listened to music. It was a lovely scenic and stress-free (read, bug-free) ride!
Hue was our next stop in Vietnam. Hue is pronounced like 'way' (if you're American English speaker) with an 'h' in front (so "hway"). If you're non-American English speaker it's pronounced like 'whey' as in 'curds and whey'. So if you read the title of this blog out loud, it should sound like 'no way.' Hue served as the political capital of Vietnam during the 1800s through the mid-1900s. Today it's most famous for the crumbling tombs of past emperors, a Citadel and the Perfume River. Of all these we only saw the River but hear the other sites are quite nice.