Hue in a day

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
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Trip End Jan 04, 2012


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Where I stayed
Hue Backpackers Hostel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Well two nights to be exact, but we didn't stay for long. Hue is a smallish city that used to be the capital of Vietnam. We arrived off the back of the overnight sleeper bus and stomped through the city tired and worn out and extremely warm. The hostel is pleasant enough, a little room with no TV, a 'cosy' shower en-suite and the normal amenities you expect from a backpacker property. I think we've just got a bit used to slightly higher quality properties so dropping down to the backpacker places is a bit tiresome. The computers are always filled up with people crowding round looking at photos, the bar is always busy with youth (which is a good thing) and the menu is just a little bit too westernised. Touts target the property as it is where everyone hangs out. The problem with Hue however is not the town (which is lovely and friendly) and not the hostel (which is as expected for the bargain basement prices); the problem is nearly entirely of our own doing.

Firstly, My Bag was soaked to the most absolute thorough extent possible. I opened my what appeared to be slightly damp bag to find some wet clothes immediately under the top. Damnit. The next layer of clothes must be protected. Nope. Everything, everything wet through. The only 3 dry objects in my bag ironically were my flannel, my towel (every traveler has to be able to rely on their towel - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and thankfully the small package Kate's mum had asked me to carry for Kate's birthday (we'll return to this later). I had to put on some wet shorts and a wet t-shirt and sit outside to dry while everything else I owned was hung up from every possible nook and cranny in our minuscule room. The afternoon of our arrival was therefore a bit of a write off.

To top this off;

"Kate, make sure you put everything valuable in your hand luggage before we get onto the sleeper bus"...."Yes I will"...."As long as you do not leave your mobile phone in the top of your main bag, within reach of any cheeky little rascals that may wish to check all your things are alright during the trip". "Nope, that will definitely not be an issue"...."that's good, as I would hate to arrive in Hue and find that one of those cheeky little rascals wandering hands would have a new phone in them and you'd be a little disgruntled". The last few sentences are a little abstract however the first sentence and the first response are entirely accurate.

Kate's phone was nowhere to be found. The bag appeared to be open when she picked it up off the bus but didn't bat an eyelid at the time. It may have just been loose and the phone fell out, it was clear that the journey was bumpy. It was clear that the bus drove through floods of water. As we also stopped many times during the night it is also clear that someone may have pilfered the phone at one of those stops. It was an annoyance we could have done without. Both tired, this sort of thing just makes you both a little stressed and so after the initial arguments were out of the way we once again realised you can't change what has already happened - just try and recover the situation as much as possible. Kate got in contact with 3, cancelled her sim and asked them to maintain her number for future use. In theory she'll still be on her number when we return to the UK.

In Hue, we reserved a full day to wander the streets. I have got the hang of letting all the cyclo drivers know that we are keen on our exercise and hence we walk everywhere and they seem to like the banter. We walked from the hostel and investigated a few ATMs for some cash (I have since realised one of these transactions which was rejected at the ATM has actually been charged to my account-gits) and then headed on to the citadel. Hue was heavily bombed during the Vietnam (or 'American' as it is called here) War and a lot of the buildings were damaged but the main walls and some of the buildings are still standing. The Citadel and palace are quite impressive and as this is a lot less visited, the place is not at all busy. We took in a show inside the Citadel which we only found because of the lonely planets guide (off the beaten track) and then strolled out the back gate of the Citadel into some of Hue's more residential streets. On the way we found two elephants that seemed to be chained up waiting for something - it very much felt like we were not meant to be where we were - but nobody seemed to care. 
The residential streets give you a taste of the real Vietnam; people sitting out drinking draught beers, games being played in the streets, motos zipping around everywhere. Nobody seemed to care we were there, which is always a nice thing. On the way back to the hostel we popped into Hue museum which is just a collection of different bits and pieces not really linked together. There are a few totally uncared for tanks and guns outside and the worst curated collection of items we have seen to date inside. People in Hue just don't care for museums. Either that or they don't care for American weapons of war - I think this is closer to the point. The overgrown feel to the place meant we spent about 20 minutes looking at the tanks and 5 minutes looking at bronzes etc before we started to head back. A few kids playing football caught my attention as in Vietnam style they were playing 'bicycles for goalposts' and playing in the dirt barefooted. All credit.

A couple of nice western meals in some local restaurants were only disturbed by the lunar festival, and that was more interesting than disturbing. On the festival a load of kids tour the town raising money for their foundations etc by playing music (or so I found out by the waiter), but in reality they drive around in lorries, cheering, banging drums. The kids don't drive the lorries in case you were wondering. It added some colour to the streets and its all in good humour, as long as they stop playing the drums after a while and bugger off somewhere else.

Hue is worth visiting, but you don't need to spend long there - which is good, because we didn't.

Our next step of the journey is a short hop south to Hoi An which has been recommended by nearly everyone - including Cian and Jen who we last met in Chengdu. We have been exchanging emails since then and are soon due to cross paths.
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