We arrived in Hue early in the morning after our long 13 hour train journey. Our hotel had arranged a taxi to pick us up from the station and unfortunately the driving was just as chaotic as Hanoi, luckily we made it in one piece to our hotel! The people running the hotel were lovely and really helpful, making sure we we had lots of information about Hue and what we could do whilst we were there. After a quick power nap and a shower we headed out for a walk around the local area by the river, where we had our first experience of people, particularly children, paying lots of attention to us and waving as we went by. Although, we felt a little unsure about the number of people approaching us trying to sell us things and being quite persistent. On Sunday evenings a few roads are closed off to create a walking street, which seemed to be a place where families came for dinner and there was a really nice friendly atmosphere.
We walked over the river to the Imperial Citadel where we saw the various sections of the ancient city and learnt about some of the history of the site. The old city included many different buildings, pagodas and gardens to explore. The Citadel was targeted during the conflicts with the French and evidence of this can be seen all around with bullet holes in walls and objects around the site. After walking round the Citadel in the heat, and getting a little burnt, we found a little café to have a cold drink and a Banh Mi.
In the evening our hotel had arranged a boat trip down the river, they told us it would be a ride on one of the many dragon boats and we would have the opportunity to listen to traditional Vietnamese music.
We were told we were going to be picked up and taken to the boat which turned out to be someone with a moped which we had to get on the back of, they didn’t seem to be aware there were two of us so he had to ring his mate to help! The boat trip wasn’t quite what we expected, we sat down and it turned out we were the only non-Vietnamese people on the boat so didn’t have a clue what was going on. A large group of women came on after us and set up a buffet at the back and made quite a lot of commotion rearranging the chairs. Once we set off we drove up the river for about two minutes and then the engine cut out and the group of musicians at the front started playing. It was interesting to hear and see the local tradition but slightly bizarre when people tried to give the performers flowers and take selfies with them mid-song, not quite sure floating in one spot on the river for half an hour counts as a boat trip!
Arran really wanted to do a trip to the old DMZ area whilst we were in Hue, the trip was quite expensive so I chose not to do it and found myself a cooking class to do instead. Unfortunately, the night before the class was cancelled, so the lovely lady who ran our hotel sorted me out a day of sightseeing and got her brother to take me around lots of places on the back of his moped. It was a little way out of the city to get to the viewpoint for perfume river and some of the roads were a little precarious on a moped but the journey was worth it as the view at the top over the river was amazing. It seemed to be a place where people go to relax and have a picnic. We stopped at a number of locations and I got to see some great sights out of the city centre.
Arran had a full day to enjoy learning more about the Vietnam War and was taken to various sites in the old DMZ. He was joined by four other men who had also left their partners back at their hotels! His trip started off with a drive through the countryside and the tour guide explained about the different mountains that were bombed and used for surveillance. He also visited an old U.S. airfield base and then moved onto a network of underground tunnels where he was able to walk/crouch through some of the tunnels that people used during the war for shelter.