We have been all over the place since our last post, so much so that we have either been on the go or knocked out! We spent a couple days in Hoi An, then moved on to Hue where we have been the last couple of days. Hoi An is a beautiful city with well-preserved architecture and some rich history. It was originally a major port city, but the river sanded up long ago and if not for tourism, there would not be much left of the city. When we arrived Sunday morning after a very bouncy, back-of-the-bus night, I think we were a little too quick to let the negatives of our first moments in the city put a cast on our views. We immediately decided we did not like it much. We arrived around 7am and it was a scorching, soggy underwear long walk until we found a hotel we were ok with. We got settled and made our first round around the city. Every. Single. Street. From one end to another. With peddlers in our faces non-stop, the worst yet. I’m telling you, we just don’t know how to sit still when we should! Well, we finally could go no further so we had fresh juice at a cafe and read a little. Even after sitting there about 1.5 hours, I was still feeling overheated, so we went back to the room and I took a long nap. Oh man, after cooling down and getting some rest, the city seemed much more pleasing! The more time that went on, the more we enjoyed it, could appreciate the beauty, and the less we felt smothered by peddlers. Overall, it still was not our favorite place. Mainly because it does exist solely for tourism. The locals seemed less friendly and more directly reliant on the money we spent, therefore, it wasn’t very peaceful during the day. The evenings were much more peaceful, and very beautiful as silk lanterns hung all over the city.
We were happy that the city center was closed off to cars and we could walk a bit more freely. One thing that we did love about Hoi An – the food! We tried a few new things that were all good, but the very best was a place called Bale Well where they bring out several plates of ingredients including bbq pork, sausage, something crunchy, rice pancakes, veggies, and rice paper. You then build your own spring rolls, which was altogether fun and messy! The taste was fantastic!
We did a lot of looking and a little buying since that was the main thing to do in Hoi An. We are pretty excited about one purchase, we got ourselves a large canvas oil painting! The bus ride to Hue (pronounced Whey) was during the day and only 4 hours. We arrived in Hue at 1pm Tuesday and hit the road first thing to see the Imperial City, an old walled fortress and palace from the Nguyen empire, which only just ended in the 1940s. It is massive, and the Forbidden Purple City where the imperial family personally lived is another walled fortress within the larger. I think we got some pretty neat photographs.
The fortress did attain some damage from the US bombs, but reconstruction and restoration are now underway. The imperial city was close to being destroyed because the Nyugen empire was a fuedal society and Vietnam wanted to forget it. Maybe they were terrible, but what remains is pretty astonishing! Today we decided to rent bicycles and ride about 5 miles each way to the tomb of Emporer Tu Duc. We could have gone to more tombs but the others were farther out. It was so nice for once to be off our feet and an experience to flow with this crazy mess of traffic. Bryan had done the research on the tomb area and I didn’t ask many questions, so I was surprised when we arrived to find out it was much more than a tomb, but was also a retreat where he lived much of his time and used it as hunting grounds, to write poetry, and to enjoy the peace. It was a very large area, again surrounded by walls, and the lake was man-made with a pretty little island.
After lunch we decided to ride another 4 miles out to Thien Mu Pagoda. This was another impressive Buddhist construction and most of it is still in great condition. The pagoda is well known for where the monk that set him self a blaze in 1963 was from [link].
After leaving the pagoda we decided to take it slow back to the hotel. That was an understatement. Just after we got back on the bikes my back tire blew – the stem of the nozel just cracked open! I’m proud to say that despite being in full sun in the heat of the day and pushing bikes for 4 miles, we made the best of it and stayed in good spirits!
This evening we are off to Hanoi!