Hue

Our arrival into Hue had been stressful but great fun, we were on such a high but we were so happy to arrive at our hostel after such a long day. Food was first on the agenda, we were recommended a restaurant which did local dishes in a tapas sharer style, it was good and cheap, just what we needed. After dinner we strolled along walking street which was full of life with singers and bars and so many people. We found a bar to reminisce on our day and settle the long running disagreement of the mechanics behind the fried ice cream stands. Andy was of the view that it some how was a hot plate that created cooked ice cream, I was convinced it was a cold plate that froze the ice cream after a confusing conversation with the girl working on the stall I was found to be correct. On that note we called it a night.

The next morning we walked over to the Citadel, Hue had been home to the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors until 1945, the Citadel hosted palaces, temples, offices, gardens and houses. It was interesting to walk around and see the varying levels of maintenance and restoration ongoing.

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After a lunch of Pho Bun Hue, a local take on beef Pho, we went back to the hostel for a power nap, we still couldn’t seem to catch up the sleep we had lost on the various sleeper buses. That evening we found a lovely restaurant serving exciting chicken dishes, we then followed it with a quick stop in a bar for a game of pool (which Andy won.. again). We had heard of a brilliant Bahn Mi lady who is a hit with locals, apparently she opens at 9pm ish under the band stand and they cost 10 Dong each (approx 30p), as we are always on the hunt for the next best Bahn Mi we checked it out. There where hundreds of locals pulling up on bikes yelling their orders and walking off with handfuls of sandwiches, eventually we managed to fight our way to the front and place our order, seconds later after some mad chopstick skills from the lady we had our Banh Mi and it did not disappoint.

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The next day was tomb raider and departure from Hue day, there were 3 tombs and a pagoda on the outskirts of town which we wanted to visit and we had to be back by 4pm to catch our bus to Phong Nha. We rented one bike and were on our way. When we decide to share a bike it is usually most comfortable for everyone if I drive it, as Andy basically has to sit so far back on the seat when he drives that I am almost running along behind.He also believes he is far superior at navigating and I know I am far superior at driving, so it suits our strengths well.

First stop was the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, it was really pretty and is the unofficial symbol of the city, it has a lot of historic significance as the focal point of the anti-communist movement and houses the car which the Buddist Monk Thích Quảng Đức, stepped out of and set himself on fire from.

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We then ventured to the tomb of Minh Mạng, one of the most famed emperors of the Nyguen Dynasty, if there was any doubt the size of his tomb indicated the same.

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Next stop was the tomb of  Khải Định, this was my favourite tomb of the day due to the quality over quantity approach to design.

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On our way to the final tomb we had heard of an abandoned water park near-by, it used to host crocodiles and when they closed down they walked away leaving everything as it was, including the crocodiles, unfortunately the crocodiles have since been removed but we thought it would be fun to check it out anyway. We tried a couple of entrances and came across one with a man guarding it, he said it was closed so not entry, we lingered for a while before he said we could enter for 100 dong (cheeky backhander) we didn’t have any change that size so decided to give it a miss.

Last stop was the tomb of  Tự Đức, this was the least well maintained and one that most visitors leave off of their itinerary, it was set over a vast estate with several buildings and ponds. I was nice enough as tombs go but our least favourite of the day.

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After this it was time to head back to town for a much needed lunch and a shower before our bus onwards to Phong Nha. Overall we really enjoyed Hue, it has a lot to offer and is set up nicely for travellers.

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