We are now in Hue which is in Central Vietnam. Hue used to be one of the capitals of Vietnam. It’s a nice older city with a lot of green space, parks, and has a lot of older French architecture. The city has been built around the Perfume River . It has the top medical universities in Vietnam. It also has a renown special high school for gifted children. I would say that many of the people are educated or being educated. There is more English spoken here by the Vietnamese then anywhere we’ve been. Even the the small shop keeper where we buy our bottled water speaks English well. I can’t say anything because our Vietnamese is non-existent. It is an incredibly difficult language to pronounce. Hue appears to be a more sophisticated city.
We took 2, half day tours to see some of the Kings Mausoleums including the Thien Mu Pagoda, The Citadel and the Thanh Toan Wood Bridge. Unfortunately many of the temples were damaged by French and American bombs during the past wars. They are in the process of restoring many of these ancient sites. The temperatures were in the in the mid 40’s most of the week. Lucky for us the 2 days we picked for the tours were in the low 30’s.
The tour of The Mausoleum of Khai Dinh was the most impressive and had a natural setting in the jungle. Of course The Citadel was massive but largely destroyed by the bombings. A lot of it is under restoration.
Our second day was very special because we met this 80 year old lady who was so happy it was contagious. She was at the Thanh Toan Museum and her job was to show how the old farming tools were used. She would start grinding the rice and sing, then put on the thatching (she called a raincoat) to show how the water buffalo plowed the fields and she would sing to the imaginary buffalo. She would show us how they would rock the baby and sing. Everything she showed us you could see her drift back into time and preform the task and sing. What a great time she had doing this and what fun it was to watch her.
This is the farm community the women lived in. They worked the farms, harvested the crops, and raised the children. The men visited once a year. They lived and worked in The Citadel. What a hard life for both the men and the women.
Our wonderful tour guide took us to the village market and showed us the different fruits and vegetables. We bought some fruit and vegetables and paid what the locals paid….very cheap. They have these tiny green apples they grow here. They were good but a bit on the tart side. Here’s a picture of Mr. Lan and David.
On our last weekend Hue was having it’s bi-annual festival. We managed to go out a couple of evening to see some festivities. We saw traditional Vietnamese dancing, kite flying competition, and parades.
The traffic was horrendous so there were traffic control police out trying to control the crazy traffic. They had no chance of controlling the traffic so they got very frustrated and angry and it was comical for us to watch. At one corner there were 4 or 5 traffic police and they were yelling and waving their billy clubs at the traffic. A car was coming with a siren and 3 police were hanging out the window yelling and waving their clubs. Of course the traffic wasn’t even looking at them. The policeman didn’t stand a chance in hell. What a scene……
We took the train from Hue to Da Nang. It was a nice way to see the countryside. The train followed the coast for a while with beautiful views of white sand beaches and coves. We were on the wrong side of the train for me to take pictures. We had to stand and look out the windows on the other side. *Note to self, ask the agent for the right side of the train or bus for scenery views. We were surprised how old the train was. It had been refitted for TV’s and AC.
We went to Da Nang for a few days. We like Da Nang and China Beach a lot. The beach was beautiful and we could walk for miles in the surf. Da Nang is the best of both worlds. It is a newly developed IT centre for Vietnam and a beautiful beach all wrapped into one city.
Da Nang was a relief from the over trafficked places we had been in Vietnam. They had lights to control the traffic which made it easier to get around. There were noticeably fewer hawkers then other places in Vietnam as well.
We’ve wrapped up our stay in Vietnam. I know a lot of bloggers have said they would never return to Vietnam because of the overcharging for tourists. We found Vietnam to have a strong culture that we didn’t understand sometimes but all and all we enjoyed our time in this country. We found the Vietnamese women to be outgoing and interested in communicating with us. Most of the males were stand-offish and they didn’t bother to communicating with us. The Vietnamese people are quite poor and are always looking for ways to relieve you of your money. You have to be on guard continuously and this can get very tiresome. We would agree with other bloggers that say Vietnam is set-up for tour groups. If you stay long term you see some of the nasty bits. All that being said we would return to Vietnam.
Good-bye for now Vietnam……