Look out, it's the Intrepid biker gang!

Trip Start Jun 04, 2005
Trip End Apr 05, 2006

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, July 31, 2005

Phew, thank goodness that's over! By the time we boarded the train to Hue at about 6pm on Thursday the 28th, we were more than ready to say goodbye to Vietnam's crazy capital. We have spoken to many travellers who love Hanoi, and, though it's certainly unique and has many charms, we found it a bit too frantic... call us country bumpkins! We were looking forward to the slower pace of a provincial town.

After a good night's sleep on the 'soft sleeper', we arrived on Friday morning to find that Hue was actually quite a big place too. But, with our comfortable hotel located centrally and near the Perfume River, and the streets much quieter, we took a liking to the town. After lunch at a riverside outdoor restaurant, we headed a across the bridge to the Citadel and met our young, smiley guide, Mr Phong, for a tour of the old imperial complex.

Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. Within the riverside Citadel, which is surrounded by a moat and massive wall, is the Imperial City, built in the 19th century. At the time, the palaces and temples of the Imperial City would have been sumptious and elaborate in their decoration, however a fire swept through the complex in 1947 and further destruction followed during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Today mostly ruins remain, though some buildings have been restored.

Saturday the 30th was without a doubt the highlight of our stay in Hue, and even of our 10 days in Vietnam. The whole lot of us took to the streets on motorbikes (as passengers, of course!) to explore the surrounding coutryside and visit the royal tombs, located a few miles upriver. Gee, what an exhiliarating feeling! Our drivers were cautious at first, taking things gently on the bends and not speeding up too much, but as the day wore on and we got comfortable riding pillion, things got a little more adventurous. Most of the driving was 'off-road', ie on small footpaths. We toured through rural villages and past paddy-fields; stopped for lunch at a nunnery (the most scrumptious vegetarian food we had ever sampled) and ended with a visit to an elaborate tomb complex upriver, and a short river cruise back down to Hue. From the back of a motorbike, one realises just how versatile and sensible this form of transport is.

That evening the rugby fans among us headed to a bar to watch the Oz-Bokke showdown, and of course the two of us were pretty chuffed with the result!
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