Friday January 25, 2013
Day 16 of G
It is 6:15 in the morning and I am going to give up on sleep. The bunks are less than 30 inches wide and maybe 5 foot 10 inches long and as hard as anything else that we have slept on. I don't know how Andrew can fit.
I get up to use the bathroom and brush my teeth. I can make it to the toilet room but there are no sinks at the far end of the car and at the nearer end there is a porter sleeping on the floor, the incredibly nasty, dirty floor, and I can't get to them. Of course we don't use the water anyway to either brush our teeth or rinse the toothbrush. For that we bring bottled water. But it is nice to have a sink to stand over and spit into. Even if the sinks are in the train hallway open to everyone. Oh well. There are always the wintergreen lifesavers.
At 4:25 in the morning Jeff's unopened water bottle plummeted down from the upper bunk and hit me on the upper rim of my eye socket. It was a rather rude and startling wake up. I'm just glad it didn't hit my eye. I hope there won't be a bruise.
We are traveling through very lush rice paddies. It seems much greener here than up North. There seems to be a lot more water and it is much greener. Everything is built right up to the train tracks. Even the dirt in the fields looks healthier. There are probably lots more mosquitos or mossies as the other English speakers call them.
Wow! I just saw a small Wat in the middle of nowhere. There seems to be a dearth of them in Vietnam. At least we haven't seen any since we have been here. We did pass a couple of cemeteries in the middle of some rice paddies but no temples. In fact we are passing a rather large one now. There are several rather large separate groupings of monuments. Different families? Different villages? We haven't had to take our shoes off anywhere in this country either. Postscript: Andrew says that each cemetery belongs to one family but that the families been here for a very long time.
It is about 7:15 and I have seen lots of small temples. They must be a lot more religious down here compared to the north. Some of these rural homes seem a lot more prosperous and better cared for as well. There are a fair number of people working in the fields and we have crossed some significant rivers.
We have arrived! It is about 8:20. We have 5 minutes to get all of us and our luggage off of the train.
It is a short van ride to the Asian Hotel in Hue. It is the nicest hotel so far. Our rooms won't be ready for a while and I am desperate for a shower and a nap. The hotel has a great buffett breakfast with western and Asian food. We eat and Andrew organizes a walking tour to the nearby (1 km?) local market but it is pouring rain and since our rooms will be ready by 10:30 or so Jeff and I just sit in the lobby and check email and I upload my journal entries.
Rooms are ready by 10:30! Best nap and shower of my life! The bed is decent size with a soft mattress. The bathroom is interesting. The wall between the bathtub/ shower and the bedroom is a picture window...But there is a shade and the water is hot and plentiful.
The group forms again at 1:30 and we meet Von, our Vietnamese guide in Hue. He is pretty good. Enthusiastic and full of pithy sayings like "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" and "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys" and "Rome wasn't built in a day"...
Von's father fought for South Vietnam and his uncle fought and died for the North. He says that no one really understood what they were fighting for. His grandmother was killed by a B52 bombing. She was carrying his older brother who survived and was found 2 days later.
We went to see some of the old kings tombs. One king had 104 children, 500 wives and additional concubines. He supposedly slept with 5 different women every night. His Viagra was cobra blood and ginseng. A different king was only 1 1/2 meters tall, had over 100 wives and no children so he adopted 3 from a brother. The adopted heir slept with some of his stepmothers, the kings wives, and was sent to prison where he died mysteriously 3 days later.
Then we went to a Buddhist temple complex. Everything is run down and I think we are too burned out to really care.
Back to the hotel. Jeff and I walk to the Perfume River and walk through the riverfront park. Nice plantings and sculptures. We cross the river on a bridge that is supposedly just for pedestrians and scooters. There are a few bicycles and bicycle taxis as well. On the way across two young Vietnamese girls are giggling and videotaping us walking. What is that about?
We find the local food market. I am fascinated. Jeff is sort of repulsed but humoring me. The fruit and vegetables and flowers are amazing. The gasping fish, snails, grubs and meat products are a little grotesque. I put it all out of my mind whenever I eat anywhere in any of these countries. You can buy cooked or uncooked food. Lots of women are selling food that is contained on just a rather small bamboo platter. it is difficult to see how they can make enough to make it worth their while.There are also lots of chopped up bits and pieces of animals some of which are recognizable some not. There are many pieces of pig: pig ears, pig faces, pig feet with limbs attached, intestines, livers and more...nothing seems that clean and while there are plenty of flies there are less than I would expect. The people, their clothes and hands are none too clean. There are very few mouths with full sets of teeth. A good number of the people here do not want to have their picture taken so unfortunately I have lots of photos with no people or from behind.
Jeff and I walk back and stop at the Why Not restaurant and bar across from our hotel. It is happy hour. 2 for 1. 2 Huda bottles of beer for 25,000 dong. Of course next door they cost 14,000@ so it is not such a great deal except that is still $1.25 for 2 beers. John sauntered by after buying some black leather converse sneakers for about $80.00. Seemed like a lot to me but I guess they are expensive in the U.K.
We bought him some beer and then Phyl and Clive stopped by and we bought them drinks as well. The total bill with a nice tip was 200,000 dong or $10. We are big spenders.
Dinner was across the street at a restaurant named Ushi with the whole group. The food was again mediocre and the place was filled with Westerners. Don't go if you are ever in Hue. We need to find places the Asians eat in. 300,000 dong.
5 mossie bites on my left ankle at dinner and a couple on each arm. It starts again.
We crashed early though John. Ray, Andrew, and the girls went out drinking. We heard this morning that the girls have never been able to get drunk on $3 before.