My next stop was something of a flying visit to take in a famous site and get moving again: I headed for Hue, home of the Imperial City.
I left Hoi An, starting my day with a culinary challenge: the hostel provided a free breakfast of fried eggs, but they curiously had no knives and forks. My available weapons, therefore, were chopsticks or a spoon. Both frustrating and hilarious in equal parts, I struggled through my egg with my inadequate cutlery before I jumped back on the public bus to Da Nang for another hospital check-up before I headed further north. On the journey, we were treated to a Vietnamese techno version of George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’, on repeat, which I have to say was a bit much for a Tuesday morning.
Had some good news from the hospital that the parasite has finally gone and that I’m hopefully on the road to full recovery. It’s a Christmas miracle! I practically skipped to the train station, in time for me to get the lunchtime train heading north. I managed to navigate the unnecessary pick-a-ticket-number-and-wait-to-be-served-at-the-counter system at the station, and purchased my ticket to Hue. It was actually a very pretty train journey. The tracks hug the coast, hauling the train through the dense jungle cliffs from which you have a beautiful view over the sea. As well as the views, the train was actually quicker and half the price of any bus options I found from Hoi An to Hue (at only 60,000₫ for a soft seat in air con), so if you have time, it might be worth going via Da Nang for the railway option.
I arrived in Hue to a lovely little homestay-style hostel with some friendly staff and fun other people. I headed out to explore the riverfront park and little art gallery before it got dark, enjoying the vibe of the place. The town centre is pretty small and close, but it has some cosy cafés and bars and a nice buzz to it. When I returned to my hostel, the homestay owner plonked me down at the table with others from the hostel and we were treated to an amazing (and free!) home cooked dinner of rice, fish, tofu, vegetables and delicious sauces. Although my run of scoring the bottom bunk came to an end here, I guess the free dinner made that okay. The hostel was called Kim’s Homestay for any of you who want to look into a bed with some delicious food.
The next day I went to see Hue’s main attraction; the Imperial City (home and central court of the Nyugen emperors in the 19th & early 20th century). My bus was coming at 1pm (I did say it was a flying visit!), so aware of my schedule and unaware of how much history nerdiness I’d be drawn into, I headed out early. This approach came up trumps in that I didn’t see another human being for about an hour or so as I was wandering through the temples and elaborate corridors, which was a refreshing surprise given how busy all other attractions have been. The tour groups did turn up eventually, but by that time, I was on my way out. Ellie: 1, selfie sticks: nil.
Again, the Imperial City was a visit I might have got a little more out of with a tour guide, but short on time, I was more than happy showing myself around. Each complex has a little marble board explaining the buildings’ construction and significance, so it was easy enough to do a self-guided tour and just soak up the elaborate grandness of the place.
Next, I’m heading out into the sticks to enjoy jungle life, caves, and hopefully fewer tour groups.
Until next time,
Number of strangers I’ve spoken to today: 4, with one ‘cyclo’ driver following me about 400m after I’d said I didn’t want a ride, thinking I was just playing hard to get with the price.
Interaction was: increasingly frustrating, as he was holding up traffic, and other road users were giving me evils as a result. Cheers.
One Woman and her Backpack x
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