Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hue - a pretty place

Tomorrow we’re leaving Hue for Da Nang to chill out for a few days on China Beach. There’s supposed to be a pretty cool place to stay there, right on the beach front, called Hao’s Place. Hopefully they’ll have space for us when we arrive. Our bus leaves at 8ish am tomorrow, and the ride is only 4ish (probably more like 5ish) hours, which won’t be too bad.

As you can probably tell, we’re a bit behind on some of the things we wanted to post (see the Hanoi food entry by Erik below). So, I guess it’s time to give an update on how much we enjoyed our time in Hue. It’s a great, beautiful, historic and low-key city with a fun night life (we watched some World Cup games at the popular DMZ Bar…  some fun games and prize-winning for us two as well) and a great atmosphere overall (despite the constant pestering of business people persistently and repeatedly asking all tourists to ‘eat here now’ and to ‘ride moto – one hour’ etc. etc.). Erik just said: “I love it here” and I feel the same.

On our first day here we visited the Citadel, a large old section of Hue that was the original city (it’s actually a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site). It is huge and we couldn’t walk the whole thing but what we saw was stunning. The old city was set up in the exact layout as China’s Forbidden City and with the same architectural style. Sadly, most of the buildings were destroyed by bombing during the American War (aka the Vietnam War), but what remains has been restored very well.

On day two we did a fantastic tour of the Demilitarized Zone, where North and South Vietnam were divided. We had a great guide who was a Vietnamese War veteran (he fought for the south – so we’re guessing he was/is not a Communist supporter but we didn’t outright ask him). We got to see Con Tien Firebase (a former American bunker where you could still see remnants of sandbags and even the inside soft shell of a helmet), a few Vietnamese graveyards, the former border site between the North and the South (the DMZ), the Vinh Moc Tunnels (an amazing tunnel system built in Vinh, a small city in the North, which reaches 23 meters deep – the people of the city lived in and out of the this tunnel system during the war for years and above ground you can still see the holes left behind by bombing where they haven’t yet been filled in), and an old Catholic church that was all shot up and in ruins… among other things.

Today, our third day in Hue, we visited the Tien Moc Pagoda by motorbike (Erik was driving of course), which was my favourite spot in Vietnam so far. It is a gorgeous and amazingly calm Buddhist monastery that is still in use (Erik got some great shots of the monks that you can check out on his blog). The architecture is beautiful and the history behind it is quite interesting. After our visit at the pagoda we rode around on our motorbike (got caught in the rain and got lost a few times). AND!!! For dinner we finally found a Pho place that measured up to the Golden Turtle in Toronto! Actually, it was BETTER! We haven’t been able to find the authentic stuff until tonight, which is strange since Vietnam = Pho! But just across from our hotel is a small stand surrounded by a bunch of small Rubbermaid plastic tables and seats. AND WOW! That stuff was good! Erik got beef and I got veggie (or “an chay”).

We’ll post another update soon! XOXOXO

Citadel Wall

US Helmet Shell at Con Tien Firebase

Bomb Hole

Beach outside of Vinh Moc Tunnels

Tien Mu Pagoda

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