Happy Womans Day

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sitting on the train station steps in Hue waiting for our hotel pick up, this is my last memory of a hot day; the sun was beaming down upon us as a guy on a moped came over to take us to our hotel. Just to make this clear; two people, two huge rucksacks and two smaller rucksacks.  He looked at us and said "Mhhh let me call my friend" and that he did, so after ten minutes of baking his friend came along on his moped, we strategically placed ourselves and the bug rucksacks on the bikes and off they went speeding around the busy streets of Hue, I think I had my eyes closed at one point, similar to our tuk tuk racing in Bangkok I thought.  You will be pleased to know I passed the finish line (Hotel entrance) first.  We were greeted with a perfect cup of tea before heading to our rooms.

I was very pleased that Hue is pronounced as hway as in hway the lads, a name I won't forget in a hurry I thought. Hue was made a World Herritage site in 1993 even though none of the buildings are over 150 years old it gave us a great look at pre communist Vietnam.  The Perfume River passes through Hue and set inside a moat is a Citadel inside a citadel, so a great town to walk around grab a boat trip or learn more history.  We came here so we could take a tour to The Demilitarized Zone as it’s the closest town to this area; we booked a tour for the following day.  After walking around the town and booking our, the sun started to go down, bye bye my friend.  The following day was a totally different story; we were collected at our hotel by the tour bus and were taken for breakfast five minutes from our Hotel then all got back on the bus for 2 hours as the driver took us to Dong Ha where we collected our guide for the day. She was called Tuo and had good knowledge of English but just couldn’t pronounce words correctly; it was a little funny at first but then half way through the day as we are all trying to work out every word it was getting a little taxing on the brain.  For example a gentleman was a wengeltlman and artillery was watiwery....not easy!

She firstly took us to an area that was heavily bombarded during the war and upon a huge mountain of rocks pointed out where the US troops set camp, gathering communications and eventually attacking the people and land below with Agent Orange.  Along the landscape you could see the uneven fields and patches which were flattened with chemicals, killing off trees for quite some time. We then visited Dakrong Bridge which is one of the starting points to the Hu Chi Man Trail, it has been rebuilt three times after being bombed during the war. At this point we all got back on the bus and the heavens opened, most of us just had t shirts on and sandals so when she stopped at a memorial not all of us got off the bus. We continued to Khe Sanh combat base which was the site of one of the most famous sieges killing thousands of Vietmanese soldiers whilst only 500 USA soldiers lost their lives.  The rain started to come down heavy as we arrived at Vinh Moc Tunnels so we each bought a poncho to keep dry (sexy).  A few young guys wouldn’t buy one because they weren’t cool enough so they ended up getting soaked to the bone.  These tunnels were a lot larger to The Cu Chi tunnels we saw in Ch Chi and inside we were shown rooms that people lived in for almost 3 years, a maternity room or cave as it was. There was a guy in the museum hanging around showing us information boards and he couldn’t speak, he was also hunched over as he walked.  We later read he was the caretaker of the museum and as a child he lived in the tunnels.  Very sad to imagine! 

We spent the following day walking around the citadel, it took about 3 hours where we explored all the temples of the emperors city, most of which were heavily destroyed during the US war and the by the French.  It was quite impressive but very sad that most if it had been destroyed.  We certainly gave the Japanese a run for their money that day taking photos of everything, to the point I got shouted at for walking through a man’s photo.  This time it was not deliberate I can assure you. The full length of the site is 2.5km so after three hours we were tired and decided to grab a nice meal.  In Vietnam 8th March is Woman’s Day so with my steak I got a free glass of wine, apparently there are two Woman’s Day per year which is no great surprise to me.  Everywhere you look in Vietnam women are working from early in the morning till late at night, they shovel sand on building sites, sell food on the streets and the men! Well they just sit around on mopeds shouting “Taxi” “Motorbike” or sit around drinking whilst playing cards for money.  Shame really  but if you’re a guy it’s the place to be!

Tired that evening we left on a night bed bus to Hanoi that evening.
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