Motorbikes, scooters. whatever you call them, there are lots of them in Vietnam, and Hue is no exception. This morning we each hopped on the back of one of these motorbikes, and headed through the town.
The tour took us out of the citadel area and into the city, but shortly thereafter we were once again outside of the city, riding around some kind of “urban countryside”. Our first real stop was by a market, where I bought myself a nice hat with the word “Vietnam” and a red star embroidered into it, for 40,000 dong (about $2). Right beside the market was an ancient bridge which not only served to help cross the river, but as a resting place and place for worship as well. sitting on this bridge was a fortune teller, whom most of us ignored (for reasons that should be obvious).
Over the bridge was a rice museum, which had many relics used for harvesting rice on display, plus an old Vietnamese woman to show us how they were all used. Amazingly, each piece was still usable - everything must have been built to last!
Then we were back on the motorbikes, and it wasn’t long before the next stop, the tomb of Tu Duc. This was one of the quickest-built tombs in Vietnamese history, which was not helped by the early and unexpected demise of the king Tu Duc himself. usually the king has enough time to find a suitable site for his tomb , however Tu Duc died very early, without having selected the tomb site. the site was picked well though, with a spot right on the river. Near to the kings tomb we also found the queens tomb and the home for the kings concubine.
Onwards from here, we went off road for a little while, stopping on top of a hill with an excellent view of the river. Here we took a few photo opportunities, on the bikes and overlooking the river, and then we were off again, stopping once mute at a stall on the side of the road, where we learned how to make incense sticks and the cone shaped hats.
Soon after it was lunch time, and for this we stopped at a monastery, where they served us an entirely vegetarian lunch. not that we could tell - they have a way with cooking some particular vegetables that it looks and feels like meat! Not only that, they served us something like five courses, and you’re usually feeling full by the second or third.
We got on the back of the motorbikes one last time, and they took us to see the Thien Mu pagoda. We said thankfully and goodbye to our motorbike drivers, and went up to see the pagoda. Around the pagoda is a monastery, and this monastery is very famous. A monk from this monastery once drove his car to Saigon, and in protest of the way Buddhist Vietnamese were being treated he set himself on fire.
The visit to the monastery was sobering, from there we went on our way down the hill where, to our surprise, a Dragon boat was waiting for us (not the rowing kind). This took us down the river, closer to where we were staying, and stopped on the riverbank. From here we wandered back to the hotel.
We had free time the rest of the day. a group of us decided to go to dinner as a group, and planned to go around 7. Until then, I went for a wander around the local area, discovering the weird and wonderful stuff that was around. I also bought some more phone credit while I was out, in case I needed to make some calls (we have Vietnamese SIM cards).
As it turns out, the entire group picked the same place to eat. The Swiss girls had gone out on their own, and when we arrived at the restaurant of choice ( Ushi ), we found them sitting there with drinks already! The rest of us (which happened to be everybody else) went upstairs and ordered food. It might have been or group size, or perhaps how busy the place was, but the food took a long time to come. in fact, we still hasn’t received our meals when the other girls finished theirs, and came up to say goodbye. We traded phone numbers and they went off to find the bar from the night before.
After dinner we called the Swiss girls, and joined them at the bar. Tonight was to be a quiet night, but we had time for one drink (and a half, it was happy hour), and a game of pool. We didn’t have the same pool magic as the night before, so it wasn’t as fun. Soon after we were heading back to the hotel for an early night, ready for an early start.