Hue and the road to Hoi An
Saturday January 26, 2013
Day 17 of G
Another hotel buffet breakfast. It was included today. Yesterday it was 105,000 dong. I took my malaria pill and a half of a 5 mg pred because of all of the insect bites I got last night.
We met Von and were on the road at 8 to the Imperial Palace and the Citadel. I'm too tired to write the dry Wikipedia type description of the 2 places. Hopefully this will make whatever readers I have happy.
The Citadel is a walled (2 meter thick walls) area where the commoners were allowed to visit. It is a large walled space in front of the Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace is similar to the Forbidden City in China. It was a huge complex for the king, his family and his entourage. Commoners were not allowed there. During the war the U.S. and the Vietnamese bombed the crap out of it. It is a UNESCO site so there are funds for restoration but it is going incredibly slowly because a huge percentage of the funding is siphoned off with all of the corruption here. Original construction of both places began in 1802 in an effort to move the central government here.
Our group did not seem properly appreciative of Von's efforts to educate us. At one point we spotted an elephant in the distance and we all got distracted and ran off to get photos. He was very dismayed and started mumbling to himself but otherwise he controlled his emotions well.
We were back to the hotel and on the bus to Hoi An by 10:05 We had one unexpected stop when a bridge in front of us was being tested for weight bearing. We had to wait on the hot asphalt in a long line of trucks. Very reassuring. We were not stopped for too long. I think that our time in Hue was a big Hue-st. Get it?
We stopped at Hai Vong pass for a quick break. The vendors (touts) were merciless. I have learned that whenever anyone calls me Madame, which sounds so nice and polite otherwise, it just means that they want to sell you something. They even call the men Madame sometimes or Madame-sir. One man had a bunch of very young puppies gamboling about and he kept asking the tourists " How would you like one? Fried? Roasted? Baked?" I think that he was joking.
We arrived in Hoi An before 2. Earlier than expected. What a nice surprise. The hotel, the Von Loi, is very, very nice. We have a large room with 1 queen sized bed and 2 twins and plenty of room. There are mosquito nets again which is good but doesn't bode well for me. We have Internet throughout the hotel which seems to be working. I had an email message from a photographer that I had previously found online. He takes up to 5 tourists at a time on a sunrise photo shoot. I think that I am going to try it meet up with him even though the thought of meeting him at 5 a.m. is not too thrilling.
The group meets at 2:30 for an orientation walking tour with Andy. We walk into the old town, past the market and go to a place to eat that serves only 1 thing. It has an all you can ebuffete it yourself springroll buffett. It was excellent and cheap and delicious. We hit the motherlode! We actually had 2 women helping us make the rolls the entire time we were eating. We were given fresh rice paper (use 2 layers each time) and then yKimchiilantro, mint, lettuce, Kim chee (fresh, not fermented and not as hot as the Korean variety) 3 kinds of cooked meat, a cooked egg wrapper, bean sprouts, a satay dipping sauce and a chili sauce. I could only eat 3. I think that Greg had 8. Andy I'm sure had more than that and even Jeff ate 5!
We then walked some more and went to a tailors. I ordered 2 outfits for $140. Pants and tops. We will see how they turn out. The tailors will make anything but I wanted something Asian looking which they didn't have many examples of. They show you lots of materials and then you point to pictures in a catalogue and tell them about any changes you would like. They measure you right there in front of everyone.
They are also known for making custom shoes and sandals in this town but enough is enough. Besides I don't even know how I will have room to carry the clothes that I ordered even though the material is very thin.
Now we are back at the hotel getting our clothes ready for the laundry. Yes! 20,000 dong/ kg.
We met back with the group and walked to the Blue Dragon Restaurant. It is a restaurant set up to support and educate street kids. Almost everyone ate a full meal but Jeff and I were still too full from lunch. I ordered a mango shake and a shot of vodka to put in the mango shake. I only ordered a shot but it came in a small wine glass and was a huge amount. I also ordered bottle of water and what was supposed to be a small appetizer bowl of a Vietnamese specialty vegetable soup called Lau Cau. I gave more than half of it to John. With a 25% tip my bill came to $5. There was lots of laughing at the table. There were more dong jokes especially when I showed Chris the photo of the elephant we saw today with its penis u-m-m-m protruding. Then we cracked up even more when Yoon politely asked if I could email him that photo. Of all the photos I have taken that is the one he wants! Then I showed my photo from Hue of the sign in front of a store called "A Dong Boutique". I guess that you had to be there to find it as funny as we did. I had had the huge shot of vodka. I don't know what excuse Chris had. But we were laughing until the tears came.
Since I hadn't heard back from the photographer we made plans to go to My Son tomorrow instead.
It is time for bed since we are now getting up at 5 to go to see the sunrise at some religious ruins.