AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Hue: Day Three


Posted on Dec 12, 2013

We both had high hopes for this day. We booked a full day tour, starting at 7am from our hotel and ending at about 7pm. We knew it involved plenty of driving, but we were heading north to visit the DMZ around the border between what was North and South Vietnam during the middle of the 20th century. The tour started with a three hour drive to see a bridge crossing a river. On the way we were shown The Rockpile from the road; A high hill which the Americans controlled and have them a view of the surrounding area. The bridge (not far from the Laos border, but miles from our hotel) was on the Ho Chi Minh Tail, a vital supply route between the north and south to supply arms, food and people to fight the Americans. The bridge was re-built in 1999 but we did get some history about the trail. Not that great after 3 hours in a cramped mini bus. We then drove to what was an American airbase named Ca Lu. There were American planes and helicopters and a few tanks, but nothing else to show that this had been a huge American base. The runway was gone and apart from the planes a few trenches remained around the site. Treasure hunters with metal detectors had surveyed the area and found coins, zippo lighters and as few other personal trinkets. They now run around the site chasing tourists asking them to buy American coins or dog tags. We then had an hour drive back to a hotel for lunch. After lunch we had a one hour drive to the Ving Moc tunnels. This was the highlight of the trip. We saw where up to 500 people had lived for 6 years and depths of up to 20m below the ground. While families had cramped little rooms to live in. There was one toilet and one kitchen, a maternity unit delivered 17 children underground, it must have been quite a tough life under there. It was quite hot and humid and the walls were dripping with condensation (I can only imagine what that was like in the summer heat). Then about an hour out so later we reached a cemetery for the dead Viet Cong soliders. Then a two hour drive back to Hue. It turned out to be a very long day, not seeing a lot, with huge amounts of driving between sites and ultimately not that good. We both wished we’d picked something else to see and do. Posted from Quang Tri province,...

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Hue: Day Two


Posted on Dec 10, 2013

The capital city of Vietnam was moved to Hue in 1802 from Hanoi by the first emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. A small version of the forbidden city was built here to house the emperor, his family and the government. Dotted around Hue are the tombs of the Nguyen emperors. This is what we are going to see today. The day started at 7am with an early breakfast, ready for the 7:45 pickup for the tour of the Citadel and a number of tombs around the city. Our hotel had told is that the tour was $12 each and then we had to pay for the entrance fee to the sites. That is 80,000 Dong per site (105,000 for citadel) or 240,000 for a combined ticket. 355,000 individual or 240,000 combined. The tour guide announced that it would take ages for everyone to queue and buy tickets individually and they should give him money and he sorts tickets to all sites so we have more time to view the sites. How kind. Which price do you reckon he told everyone? We had this written on some paper, when Annemarie showed him it and told him we wanted to pay 240,000 for the combined ticket he quickly folded the paper so no-one else could see it and accepted the money without quibbling (no fuss means no attention I guess). Lucky us, unlucky everyone else. Which makes me wonder how many times we have (and will be) scammed in other places. The tombs are to the west of Hue as the sunsets in that direction. The tombs are more than just tombs as we know them, the emperors worked, relaxed and took holidays to the tombs. Until the death of an emperor he would get to know the location very well. Quite a good idea actually, knowing where your body will spend the rest of eternity; a thought which had never really entered my head but makes sense. Also, these tombs are enormous, some taking up many hectares and containing large lakes and many buildings. Our first tomb was that of the emperor Minh Mang. It was quite large, taking around 5 minutes to walk the full length of it. The second was the tomb of Khai Dinh. His tomb was far smaller but still very impressive. Almost every surface covered in lacquered ceramics made this a very colorful and vibrant tomb. The king was not liked by his people because the French were running the region and he was their puppet (a figurehead). He also asked the French to raise a tax to pay for his tomb, something his fellow...

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Hue: Day One


Posted on Dec 10, 2013

We took yet another overnight train from Hanoi to Hue in central Vietnam. This was our 10th train since Europe and pushing our total time on trains on this trip to over 250 hours. We left Hanoi at exactly 19:35 and arrived only 30 minutes late at 09:45 the following morning. Our arrival was never going to be a pleasant experience; All train station exits are crowded with taxi drivers and motorbike riders offering their services. You say no to one and the person immediately behind them will ask the same question. It makes me angry, even worse if I didn’t sleep properly and I’m already in a bad mood. So the second we left the station we were pounced on. We said no about 30 times and got away from the exit, but our pickup for the hotel wasn’t around, which meant having to stand still, with our backpacks, near the station exit. Roughly every 20 seconds someone would come over asking if we needed a taxi or a motorbike. This was pushing my restraint to the limit, asking me the same question over and over really gets to me. Finally someone from the hotel arrived, hailed a taxi and put our bags in for us. An interesting pickup service but effective. The hotel we booked was the Jade Hotel, which has amazing reviews on Trip Advisor and it lived up to those reviews. As soon as we were through the doors we were sat at a table, given ice cold damp flannels (so refreshing), poured fresh juice and been asked what we wanted to eat (free breakfast and free juice/tea/coffee all day). Annemarie had already planned our itinerary for Hue. A full day tour around the city was planned for one day and a trip to the old DMZ for another day. We booked the city tour (almost all hotels and hostels arrange tours) for the next day and the DMZ for the day after, filling all three days we have planned in Hue. By this time it was about 11am, but with no room ready we decided we should wander around the city a little. We headed for the Citadel, the heart of the old town. It was getting hot as we walked around the outside of the walls of the old city. Around 25 degrees and almost 80% humidity gave it a real feel of about 29 degrees according to AccuWeather. Lucky we spotted a coffee shop when we did. A coffee and ice cream later we were ready to hit the road again; straight back to the hotel to rest. In the evening we...

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