Friday, 18 May 2012

Hanoi to Hue

The Ruecroft Noble Adventure continues…

After our Ha Long Bay trip we took the next few days exploring Hanoi further. We found the best way to get around together as group (4 of us) was to hire the electric tourist cars, a car and driver cost $12 an hour and took us right through every part of the old city and around the lake through some of the new city. Recommended as a first day activity, as it give a good overview of the city, and you can cover so much ground in that hour. We did a day time tour and on another day did an evening tour which was different again.

Also on the agenda was a performance at the Water Puppet theater. The performance included traditional Vietnamese music played live as stories of folklore were told through the puppets dancing on the water. Perhaps 2 dozen short tales played out during the performance, ending with the water dragon and puppeteers appearing in the stage of water. Great show.

We also indulged in some local retail as well, Louise & I replacing all our luggage and I bought a very nice Ukulele with carry case as well as the usual T shirts scarves, wallets, watches and belts you usually buy.

Another pastime while on holidays is getting a massage. Louise and Sally had manicures and pedicures in the morning and Ian & I had foot massages, which included hand, arm foot and leg with a back rub to finish off, more than an hour for $12. Very relaxing!

On Saturday evening we embarked on our train trip to Hue, leaving at about 7pm the journey lasted until about 8am the following morning. We had a 4 berth cabin to ourselves, booked as first class soft sleeper, it was double bunks on either side with the people who could reach the top bunks (Sally & I) up,  while the plebs took the lower bunks. With a couple of wodkers and a sleeping tablet, train travel is tolerable and a bit of an adventure. Saw quite a bit of the country side as we where awake early, sunrise here is about 5am.

We are staying at a nice 4 star hotel on the Perfume River in Hue although a bit faded in beauty and grandeur, it is in a good location and only $4 from the train station (and has a pool!). We had an arrangement with our laundry man in Hanoi, who also put us on the train, that we meet his friend in Hue to organize our city tour, Ms Tram

We started our tour at 8am the following morning and visited 3 tomb sites of previous Kings of Vietnam, including the 2nd last king that they don’t mention because of his flamboyance that questions his manliness, however it was included in the tour? Anyway as the morning progressed, so did the temperature and humidity. Each tomb complex included unimaginably steep steps and much walking through the sun. We had to pull the pin on the tour at midday, and our help tour guide agreed to take us to lunch and back to the hotel for 2 hours of swimming and aircon before resuming our tour our the Imperial City, the Citadel and Forbidden City.

This is the highlight of a visit to Hue and it lived up to my expectation. Although some of it has been damaged in successive wars, it is a vast complex with fortified walls, many different living precincts and you can visualize it as a city. Here again we discovered the electric cars. At an additional $10 it was worth it to cover the entire site, we saw areas that we would not have had time to see had we been walking. Our City tour ended with a visit to another Pagoda, this one over looking the Perfume River. The Pagodas are interesting but tend to look the same after your third or fourth, but a good day had by all.

Our last day in Hue was spent…shopping. Well we did have a cyclo adventure getting to the markets and back. Cyclo’s are the 3 wheeled bicycles with the seat in front, we hire 4 of them, there and back which was a lot of fun in itself was.

Our last night in Hue was spent at the Octopussy Restaurant, Louise and Sally ordered flaming coconut prawns (not what it read like on the menu). A coconut containing prawns is set alight on your plate. Remember it’s an adventure.

Tomorrow morning we depart for Hoi An, and as I write, it is now after midnight, making it the 16Th May 2012 in Australia at least, marking our 20Th Wedding Anniversary.


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