We took a morning flight to Hue from Hanoi. We knew that we were arriving in the monsoon season, so we were not surprised to see heavy rain – however, it was still very warm.
We were soon in our hotel room, on the twelfth floor, with a spectacular view over the Perfume River. We spent the afternoon walking in the rain, along the river and looking in the shops for respite from the rain. It was difficult to find what we were looking for as very few of the staff spoke any English, or their English vocabulary was limited to,” yes, hello ,thank you and goodbye”- they never say”no”.
We were only in Hue for two nights and the second day we allocated to sight-seeing. Key highlights included:
There were many tourists in Hue, including French, German, Australian and Dutch, with a sprinkling of US, Spanish and occasionally a Brit, like us. We were a little surprised at the large number of French tourists, given the history of the French colonial period in Vietnam. Our guide told us that many French tourists were rather embarrassed when they walked around historical Hue, particularly the devastated Imperial City, seeing first-hand the damage inflicted by both the French and later the Americans.
We enjoyed the local cuisine, that included shell-fish parcels, wrapped in rice paper and beef wrapped in dried banana leaves, that were delicious!
Our next event was to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world, but more about that in the next blog. We wanted to purchase our train tickets from the hotel’s travel-desk. Please understand that English is not widely spoken in Hue and we thought that the charming lady did not understand our request that was for two first class train tickets from Hue to Danang. She gave us a price that converted into sterling was about £4.50 (say USD7) for two tickets! We didn’t think that this could be right, so we questioned the price as we wanted to travel comfortably. She got so fed up with us that she offered to take us to the station in a taxi to purchase our tickets. She was, of course, right about the price and the taxi cost was more than the three-hour train journey, but we wouldn’t describe it as “First Class!” – but that’s for another blog….