I wake up at 6am to the enthusiastic honking of the driver, the guy next to him chatting away in the same frantic manner.
And this is what I see:
To the left there are little brick and concrete cots shattered between the bright green fields that are still covered in the veil of morningmist, now turning yellow and orange with that big burning ball rising far behind the horizon, as the kids are rushing by in their school uniforms on their bicycles.
And before that lies another deep strip of those greenest fields, most of them rice, long straws standing fiercely straight in a basin that every now and then gets a chance to show it’s reflection like a sparkling gem. Some are different crops; variations of lettuces and cabbages, a banana tree here and there, some cornfields.
It’s weird how I still see dry riverbanks from time to time; with the amounts of water in the fields you wouldn’t expect this country to suffer any drought.
Supposedly we’re driving down highway #1. It’s possibly in worse shape than the highways of Laos. Or it just seems like that, because this driver doesn’t slow down one bit for bumps or when taking over. I conclude once more Vietnamese drive like crazy.
I delight myself over an oreo breakfast, and even more so about the locals on the bus doing the same. They are the ultimate bus-snack.
Once arrived in town, Tomas [GER] the other westerner who also gets off the bus here, and I look for a hostel together. The first decent one we find is the same chain I was in that first night in Hanoi, which I decided to ban. He settles.
I decide to look around some more. An hour later I have to admit with a sigh, they have the monopoly on dorm rooms. I go back to book one night; I’ve already confirmed my bus to Hoi An tomorrow morning.
How to make the most out of your one-day-stay in Hue:
You come in with the sleeperbus from Hanoi – perfectly comfortable to catch a few hours of sleep.
You’ll come in around 9am, so once you’ve fought off the motortaxies who all want to give you and that one other non-Vietnamese passenger a ride to a hotel, you’ve got plenty of time before check-in at 11am. If you’re looking for a dorm just go to Hue Backpacker Hostel.
Find a local market for some breakfast at a normal price; 10.000d a pineapple.
After you’ve got all your stuff sorted out and had a refreshing shower, go around the corner to rent a bicycle from Ms. Nam Thanh at 30.000d. Don’t forget to bring a map from the hostel.
Take a little tour through the citadel to begin with. It’ll give you a nice view on local life in this otherwise pretty crowded city.
And continue west over the Kin Long road. At the end a man will ask you to park your bike for 5.000d, some women will try to sell you overpriced water or a tour to the tombs. Ignore them and just walk up and wander around the pagoda. It’s up a hill so you’ll get a nice view and the garden is lovely quiet.
Make sure you’re wearing your swimminggear ’cause on the way back the river will most likely tempt you for a dive.
This time cross the bridge right after the railwaytracks and take another right at the second bridge on your left hand. Take a right at the junction and follow the road for another 5 minutes.
I was looking for this pagoda Lonely Planet was elated about, but even the locals couldn’t point me to it. Instead I found this place that might have been a graveyard of some sort? Anyway, you’ll find this deserted looking place with many cool shrinelike structures covered by flowers and plants. Have fun discovering!
After this you could follow the road some more, eventually you’ll drive into a belvedere, ‘s got some nice views. I wouldn’t recommand it necessarily though…
You might be craving for some cooled sugary drink after all that cycling. You’re not going to find it though. However you might find a stand where they sell cooled water, if you’re lucky.
Oh and make sure you’ve got your sunlotion on. Otherwise the sun might carry an evil grin.
I’d forgotten mine in Vang Vieng, which wasn’t a problem in Vientiane, Hanoi or Halong Bay. But of course today I couldn’t find any. And I got burned good!
And the beach that the hostels map speaks of; it’s a fraud, there’s no such thing. So just go back to the other side of the track and hope you find a quiet spot. And that the sun hasn’t just finally been conquered by some clouds. Like the big ones.
Well at least it’s cooling down.
I’d better get my clothes back on and make my way back before the rains come pouring down…
Ooh, lightning! Hurry now.
Still. A good day in Hue! =)
Lesson learned: Asian business mentality means getting the best deal for everyone – yes they want to sell you something; they need to make a living, but they also want to make you a happy customer.