Monday saw the tour and I depart Hoi An via bus to Hue (pronouced Why). Sadly most of us were nursing a slight hang over from the antics of the previous night. Apparently we were watching the Chelsea versus Liverpool match (bloody English and their “soccer”) but really I was enjoying the cocktails. $3.50 for two, yes you read correctly, two!
The bus ride took about four hours, following the beautiful coastline and climbing through the mountains. We stopped at a small village called Hai Van Pass where the US Army had built bunkers during the Vietnam War. You could even still see the bullet holes in some of the walls.
The temperature in Hue when we arrived was heaven…about 28`C and zero humidity – it was a wonderful change. After a quick lunch we all joined in on motorbike tour of Hue.
To date one of the best experiences I have had – it was so exhilarating sitting on the back of the bike and cruising the back roads, rice paddies and villages of Hue. The drivers that took us on the back of their bikes were cool, old, Vietnamese dudes and they knew how to ride! Our first stop was to the rice museum to watch a Vietnamese lady give an Oscar-worthy performance on how rice was harvested and how fish were caught.
We jumped back on our bikes and cruised to the Tu Duc Tomb where Emperor Tu Duc has a tomb but is not buried. He was buried in a secret location somewhere in Hue to ensure his remains would be untouched. Sadly, the 200 men who buried the Emperor were all beheaded to ensure the secret was very safe. Before Emperor Tu Duc’s departure he used the grounds for a place to relax and read poetry. He also had over 100 wives but never produced a heir.
Next we rode to a beautiful, secluded spot to enjoy a stunning view of the Perfume River. Some locals kids were also enjoying the view and celebrating a birthday with a picnic lunch. Also in this spot were more US bunkers…
A short bike later we arrived at an incense making factory. The lovely ladies at the factory also make the Vietnamese hats, which I had been eyeing off. These hats actually have a “shadow” inside them and when held up to the light you can see a beautiful pattern. I ended buying some incense and a hat – which I think I may turn into a lamp shade?
We then rode to the Elephant and Tiger Fighting Arena – a very depressing history. It was used for elephants and tigers to fight each other to the death. There were claw marks scratched deeply into the brick work; from a helpless tiger trying to escape his enclosure. Very sad and heartbreaking.
Our final destination was Thien Mu Pagoda which is also a monastery for monks in training. We were lucky to see them enjoying the afternoon playing hacky sack. Our awesome drivers then took us for one last spin on the way back to our hotel through the crazy roundabouts and roads of Hue. A really enjoyable afternoon.
Link to the photos is here.