Written by Essexgirl09 on 22 Sep, 2010
Whilst in Hue some friends and I decided it was time to experience a cyclo ride. A cyclo is basically a back-to-front rickshaw. The cyclist sits behind the passenger seat. There were four of us, so the two cyclo ‘drivers’, who were…Read More
Whilst in Hue some friends and I decided it was time to experience a cyclo ride. A cyclo is basically a back-to-front rickshaw. The cyclist sits behind the passenger seat. There were four of us, so the two cyclo ‘drivers’, who were both local men, put a bench across the passenger seat making them split level. This meant someone sat on the proper seat and someone on the bench behind them, with the smaller passenger sitting between their knees. Ideally you would want one to yourself though. The cost of this was VND 100,000 per person which is approx US$5 or £3.35 for an hour. This seemed typical to prices we have been quoted elsewhere and other people paid, so bare this in mind when negotiating with the drivers. We picked our drivers as we came out of the Imperial City and arranged for our hour trip to take in part of the city walls, some typical city life and return us to our hotel. We did about two sides of the imperial city (which is square) before they took us past the local life. It was nice to be able to see shopping streets and markets that the locals use. In fact we stopped for a five minute break at an indoor market and picked up a few bits. We also rode down residential streets, seeing houses that would cover most budgets. This was such a unique way to see the city as we would not have wandered as far as this part of town under our own steam. The cyclos allowed us to travel faster than on foot, whilst getting a good feel for the place, that you don't always appreciate on an air-conditioned coach travelling at twice the speed. With the oppressive humidity, our cyclo drivers had to work quite hard and were deserving of their fee and a small tip (typically 10%). You do share the road with other traffic but it is a lot quieter over the North side of the river where the Imperial City is. Across the river, near our hotel, the roads are a lot busier. The traffic is mainly cycles and motorbikes; there are not many cars or vans. I took a few photos whilst travelling on the cyclo, you will need to use a faster shutter speed in order not to get blurry shots. I found the Sports setting on my Canon to do the job very well. Having enjoyed our Hue cyclo experience we did the same thing in Hanoi. It is a busier city, and junctions are quite interesting – in the fact that it is slightly hairier with the increased traffic all having the right of way - but I do recommend giving this a go if you get the opportunity. On quieter streets you can get out and have a go at cycling too if you wish too! Close
Written by miloetal on 18 Sep, 2005
Although only a distance of 140km this is really an all day adventure. We hired a car and driver for $30 through the Morin Saigon Hotel, so that we we could go at our own pace.
Even the most budget-conscious can do the same trip…Read More
Although only a distance of 140km this is really an all day adventure. We hired a car and driver for $30 through the Morin Saigon Hotel, so that we we could go at our own pace.
Even the most budget-conscious can do the same trip with the same stops for about $4 on one of the many of the Open Tour mini buses that do the trip daily. These can be arranged through your hotel or many of the cafes around town. They are fairly modern 16-seat mini buses, air-conditioned and quite comfortable.
On the morning of departure we were picked up by our car and driver. Our $30 had bought us a brand new 7-seater Mercedes with "Saigon Morin" emblazoned down the side. Our driver spoke basic English, and along the way, he took minor detours to ensure that we saw the highlights along the way. He stopped for many photo opportunities.
No matter how you travel, your driver will make some stops at particular roadside stalls and or shops. Just accept that this is the way it works and relax. Drivers receive various forms of commission for this practice. The rest of your trip will be far more pleasant if you just look interested and browse. Particularly at the Hai Van pass buy something, e.g. water, gum, or a tacky souvenir from the stall your driver directs you to, or it will be a silent and petulent trip from there on in.
Unfortunately, our choice of transport screamed "rich Americans" (we're not), so we came in for extra special attention from all the vendors and touts along the way.
Quite apart from the spectacular scenery, the exciteable locals and the history spending a day on Highway 1 is an experience all in itself. The only rule is the biggest wins. Hairpin bends and sweeping curves take on a whole new dimension when you are battling tourist coaches and trucks for space on what is a very narrow road. I will admit that I closed my eyes during periods where I was sure that death was imminent. Many of the passing buses were laden with motorcycles on their roof, the mighty dreams not quite up to the incredible gradients involved in the climb over Hai Van pass.
In total our trip from Hue to Hoi An took from about 8am to 4:30pm, with a 2-hour stop in Danang.
Written by Ishtar on 22 Jun, 2005
We never dreamed that we would have an opportunity to meet with any Viet Kieu while in Vietnam, much less share with them their feeling about their homeland, and what they left behind. Viet Kieu is the name given to expatriates living abroad, who last…Read More
We never dreamed that we would have an opportunity to meet with any Viet Kieu while in Vietnam, much less share with them their feeling about their homeland, and what they left behind. Viet Kieu is the name given to expatriates living abroad, who last year contributed a hefty $3 billion to the economy through family support, as well as economic investments. Being unsure as to whether this was a sensitive subject, we let them tell us what they felt was appropriate.
So here we are again, at the Hue Train Station, bound for Nah Trang. It is another brutally hot day, and we are told that the train has been delayed for at least another hour. I took advantage of this grace time period (which turned out to be more like two hours), to visit my English-speaking friend with the café nearby. He was truly delighted to show me his place, and I stocked up on some provisions for the journey to include Snickers bars (a weakness), coconut cookies for Chuck (his downfall), bananas, peanut and sesame brittle, and drinks.
The waiting room is filled, and most passengers are headed to Saigon. At some point, I decided to move the luggage and myself to the other side of the room where I spotted a working fan. Indeed a great idea, which developed into great friendly conversation. I sat next to a young woman in the second row. She was talking to a group of elderly men, who were walking around the area wearing military hats which boasted "USS etc.". I sat up and wondered who they were, and where they were going. Eventually, I found out that this was an annual reunion that took place between brothers, the majority of them living in Southern California. The young lady’s mother resided in Hue, and together with the brothers, they were holding a reunion in Saigon.
The men spoke very freely about their war service against the communist North, and though they enjoy the family gatherings, there is no question of living in Vietnam again. The government has been trying to implement measures to attract Viet Kieu, recognizing their valuable contributions to the rebuilding of this war torn nation. One of the proposals, according to the "Viet Nam News", a newspaper I read religiously for its concise reporting and lack of scandalous news, included allowing Viet Kieu to hold dual citizenship. This would permit them real estate ownership and inheritance; it would also speed up their processing at immigration when they enter Viet Nam. It is interesting to note that right now, Vietnam’s prime minister is winding up his U.S. visits, and that he has not gone to Southern California, where the largest congregation of expats is concentrated.
The men that we met spoke fair English and told us they were Americans, like us. How amazing is that? I exchanged email addresses with the young woman, who was a designer of tiles. We promised to send pictures. She told me that she yearns to go the United States, but she can’t afford it just yet. Practically everyone we met is starry eyed about New York, especially south of the DMZ. Will the younger generation of Viet Kieu entertain the efforts of the Vietnamese Government? Realizing that these people represent the future of the country with technological, academic, artistic and scientific advances, it wants to create super favorable conditions for them to consider living in the homeland. Up until recently, there was a real disconnect between the people who had fled the country and their ex-government. Well, it’s been thirty years.
When they say, you need to get them when they’re young, it would appear that the Committee of Overseas Vietnamese Affairs is listening. Last year, they opened their very first two-week summer camp which hosted 90 children from various Viet Namese communities worldwide. They are expected to repeat the exercise this coming July. Language courses are also encouraged, as children absorb more quickly than adults. If one were to compare numbers, in the space of twenty years, returnees have surged from 8,000 to about half a million in 2004. I see a trend.
Some Viet Kieu on the other hand, do not want to go home, visit relatives and reminisce. We met such a man in New York who has a business on Mulberry Street. We had gone into his shop to purchase Vietnamese coffee, and struck up a conversation with him. No, he doesn’t like going back to Saigon because everyone wants money, especially if they know you’re American. He said it was costing him a fortune to visit, as he was handing out almost $10,000 every time among family and needy friends. He prefers going to China for business.
As the train finally pulled into the station, we all got up and our new friends helped us with our luggage. I earned my very own fan from the mother in the group, as she realized I was overheated. They, too, were going first class, so we all started the long walk toward the back of the train. It had been a most pleasant learning experience, and I was grateful to the tardiness of the SE2 once more, for having granted us this fabulous opportunity.
Written by Ishtar on 19 Jun, 2005
A cyclo driver on Le Loi Avenue finally had us convinced to use his services to get to the other side of the Perfume River. At this point, we had been accosted an untold number of times - always starting with the phrase "where are…Read More
A cyclo driver on Le Loi Avenue finally had us convinced to use his services to get to the other side of the Perfume River. At this point, we had been accosted an untold number of times - always starting with the phrase "where are you from," which grew so absurd at one point that Chuck was saying "Iraq." Most cyclos are really not built to accommodate two people, but leave it to the ingenuity of man, and there we were, being pedaled on the avenue, and still in search of that so elusive shopping center. As we made a left turn to get on the Truong Tien Bridge, there was a slight uphill incline where he had to really pedal hard. Once you’re over the hump, it’s downhill, and really lovely, as you begin to see the huge signs welcoming you to Hue. Off the bridge, he made a right turn, then a left, and dropped us off in front of several small stores in the hope that we could find a battery. No such luck.
We began walking toward the Citadel, looking toward the first arch that would officially usher us into the grounds of the Imperial City. We had a pair of drivers literally stalking us and not letting go despite loud protests, and we did everything we could to get out of their way. Without a map or any signs to guide us, we were easy prey. We came upon a very majestic gate, but it was not the one we wanted. I spotted a fruit stand where a young girl was impaling guavas onto sticks; as I tried to pay for the fruit, the cyclo driver tried to interfere, and I almost lost my temper.
We sat on stone benches and started munching; by the way, in Vietnam, guavas are dipped into chili powder automatically, unless you tell them not to. Two young girls started begging. One of them won my heart; her beauty was achingly natural, and she was so serious for such a little one. Uncharacteristically wide eyes searched my face, and she repeatedly said, "Madame," and rubbed her belly to indicate hunger. I must have asked her a million questions, which, of course, had no meaning to her, like, where is your mother? why aren’t you in school? Encouraged by the dialogue, she sat next to me. I wanted to take her home.
Suddenly, another man showed up and started speaking English to me and showed me a notebook of his credentials; in English, I could see some girls had been impressed with his talents as a guide. Chuck was so thoroughly annoyed at this point that he hardly looked up at the guy, yet his was an interesting proposal. He would take us around Hue to off-tourist areas and a "great" restaurant for lunch. After an hour, he would drop us off at the entrance gate. I convinced Chuck to give it a go.
In my earlier journal, I talked about train travel in Vietnam in some general terms. When I think back to our trip there, the first memories are always those of the train chugging along the tracks, at times making an enormous racket. Visions…Read More
In my earlier journal, I talked about train travel in Vietnam in some general terms. When I think back to our trip there, the first memories are always those of the train chugging along the tracks, at times making an enormous racket. Visions of red locomotives, hurried people with their treasured bundles, unending rice fields, and oxen plowing the land flit through my mind. Arriving in Hue was so highly anticipated that I didn’t mind the suffocating heat that rolled its greeting carpet.
As with most train stations, an infinite thread of vendors line the back wall of the station, ready with souvenirs or snacks. When you get off the train, don’t wait for anything; just start walking towards the exit. In most instances, you should keep your ticket stub, as staff will stop you and ask for it. I’ve seen that, with most tourists, however, they don’t seem to care much if you have it. Taxi drivers will be waiting on the steps and below, in what I’ll call the station "square." So many cafés have set up outdoor dining, with the requisite umbrella, lest you die of heat stroke. We knew that the Green Hue Hotel was close to the station, but we didn’t realize it was within walking distance.
A young man made his mark by addressing me in fairly good English (note that Hue schools and colleges are the best in the country) and trying to help with our purchasing the tickets for Nah Trang. He seemed terribly proud of his ability to speak well and was ashamed to tell me that sometimes Vietnamese people are rude on line and think nothing of cutting in front of you and proceeding with their business, which is exactly what almost happened before he intervened. He was pleased that we were smitten with his country and that we had already experienced Saigon, Hanoi, Bat Trang, and Mekong, and were now about to explore Hue. He invited us to sit at his coffee shop; he was pleasant but not insistent. I took his picture because he was so likable.
The journey from Hanoi to Hue had taken almost 12 hours. We were eager to start our way across the Perfume River to the Citadel, as we only had slightly over 24 hours to get a flavor of the city known for the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).
If you come to Hue, plan to stay at least 3 days, if not more. Most famous are the royal tombs, which were constructed southwest of the Citadel; we did not get to see those, which turns into yet a great opportunity to return. The Hai Van Pass is mentioned in nearly every guidebook I read locally, and we did get a magnificent view of it from the train (see picture below). Many tours are available from Hue, as it is fairly close to the DMZ and other areas of interest.
Written by Eric from Aiea on 26 Sep, 2007
Hearing about how great a difference there is in the foods from Central Vietnam from those in the North and the South is one thing, actually finding a good cookbook in English to tell you the specifics is quite another! I looked in several places…Read More
Hearing about how great a difference there is in the foods from Central Vietnam from those in the North and the South is one thing, actually finding a good cookbook in English to tell you the specifics is quite another! I looked in several places and could not find one that was centered on just Hue! I did some online research and found different bits and pieces from articles, but no one fully defined what I was looking for in looking at why the foods were different and what made them special enough that you are seeing all these new restaurant popping up in HCMC and so many people going to enjoy them. So after rereading the excellent article in Asialife HCMC on Mon Hue and what Thin Lei Win had sampled there, I decided to do a bit of research and help out some fellow travelers who may be headed to Hue with the same questions I could not answer. Hue was once an ancient capital city, though it is not an ancient imperial capital city. It was only two centuries back that really began the run up on what has become a treasure trove of unique traditional dishes that seem only now to be branching out away from the mainstream of Vietnamese foods found in so many countries. Hue originally was the feudal capital of the Nguyen Lords, who dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1802, the future Emperor Gia Long made Hue the national capital after establish control over most of Vietnam. From that time afterwards until the fall of the Vietnamese Emperors, there seems to have been an imperial culture that thought that the more dishes created during that emperor’s reign, the more power and sophistication that they would be perceived to have. This actually is true in that the foods they helped to create have continued on their names much longer than their actual ruling skill did. It was said that the Emperors were always looking to find the finest chefs in the empire and move them to Hue. This movement of chefs from the different regions of Vietnam allowed for the fusing of many new and different regional flavors and textures to the more traditional Hue dishes. That seems to be how the Imperial Hue style cooking actually came about and blossomed into a cuisine that was so different during a 200 year period or so. It was believed that during that time that the commoners were forbidden from eating these new dishes that were developed for the Vietnamese royalty. This may have been a good thing in the long run, because it would have continued on many of the older recipes of Hue dishes. Some Hue-style foods have been well-known for a long time, in particular dishes such as the spicy noodle soup called bun bo Hue whose thick noodles are different from the thinner types found in pho. Hue dishes are of Vietnamese style, but have their own flavors that so reflec Close
Written by Eric from Aiea on 24 Sep, 2007
This was my second late August trip to Hue in four years, and the weather in Central Vietnam is often enough very predictable during this time of year - brutally hot with and a heavy dose of rain about 5pm each day that helps to…Read More
This was my second late August trip to Hue in four years, and the weather in Central Vietnam is often enough very predictable during this time of year - brutally hot with and a heavy dose of rain about 5pm each day that helps to make it a bit more muggy.
If you realize that is what each day will be like, then you are able to plan accordingly in how you are going to tackle seeing as much as you can do. The morning hours until about 10:30am are the key times of visiting local sites and temples if you are going on foot and will be outdoors most of the time. About 3pm - the clouds start to grow thicker and you will start hearing the distance sounds of thunder. This is an ideal time to be out and touring such places as the citadel - or the university areas. Just make sure you know where you want to be when the rain storm finally arrives. We found the Paradise Garden Restaurant to be one such place with great food and a great view of the sunset.
We did get caught in the storm the day we were over at the Citadel roaming about. It became a downpour just as I made it back to the entrance gate fortress. Rather than wait it out, Nhi decided we would go ahead and take our ride back across the river to get something to eat. The waterproofing system of the pedal cab left much to be desired - and Nhi paid for her call on this one, because somehow, it rained even harder as we got to the middle of the bridge! The Louisiana slang for this in English is called "a gully washer"!
The biggest part of being able to do as much as I did this time around in Hue was that Nhi, from the Dong Ha hotel in Thuan An, was taking me around and knew where to go. Taking the Perfume River cruise was the best way to see things, and beat the heat. And she was right on target in figuring I would enjoy the traditional Hue style music on the night dragon boat trip. When the engines cut, and you are drifting in the river floating back towards the bridge watching the light son shore and with the hauntingly beautiful traditional music - that is just one thing that you carry with you as a great memory for the rest of life. It is definitely something that I look forward to doing again - and making sure that anytime I have friends along from Saigon - that I will get them to go as well.
In turn, I was able to introduce Nhi to something new - Indian food. The key sign of someone liking something new that is so very different than what they know - is that there was absolutely nothing left at all in the serving dishes from the items we ordered. I also taught her the old trick of walking into a 4 star hotel and cooling off in their lobby A/C- and then going out back for a drink in their garden. Just something a tourist can get away with - if she is leading them around. No one would say anything different in regards - and in the heat there - it definitely is worth being in the A/C for five minutes looking at a hotel's tourist shop.
There are way more things to do in Hue than one can do in but three days - but no since not trying. I hope to be able to see a couple of the universities there next time. Hue is known for having the best higher education in the country. I passed by a campus - but did not have the chance to wonder in and see it. I also want to go back to the far corner of the citadel and using photos from this trip - take a better look at a different side of history than is shown. I would have liked to have had the reading and map of the Battle of Hue with me as I walked around - instead of the old historical views pre Vietnam-American war. You can sure bet I will have it next time.
The climb up Hai Van Pass reveals spectacular scenary as the pass spears out into the sea. Expect the possibility of wild and windy weather as you reach the peak. On the day that we were there, there was a visible curtain of rain washing…Read More
The climb up Hai Van Pass reveals spectacular scenary as the pass spears out into the sea. Expect the possibility of wild and windy weather as you reach the peak. On the day that we were there, there was a visible curtain of rain washing across the top. The road winds it way to the peak with sweeping curves and nerve-wracking hairpins.
Once you reach the top there is a large tourist stop off to the right. Before you are out of your vehicle you will be encircled buy a frenzy of vendors fighting for your custom. There will be no respite until the next bus pulls in.
Off to the left is a disused fort built by the French and later used by the Americans. On a clear day the views would be spectacular. None of the vendors venture onto this side of the road.
Written by jennylee79 on 02 Mar, 2005
To really see how friendly and enthusiastic the people in Vietnam are, I suggest teaching them baseball. My friend who's teaching there and I spent one of her class periods teaching 30 Vietnamese university students the American pasttime. What a riot! They…Read More
To really see how friendly and enthusiastic the people in Vietnam are, I suggest teaching them baseball. My friend who's teaching there and I spent one of her class periods teaching 30 Vietnamese university students the American pasttime. What a riot! They were all eager to learn the game and try to hit, which they could do amazingly well. Maybe they didn't have the best form, but they made contact. Running the bases was like a scene straight out of t-ball: people forgetting to run, not knowing which base to run to or where to throw the ball, and lots of screaming. Still, there was definitely some potential there, and I learned that simple enthusiasm for the game counts just as much as anything else.
I list this as an experience here because I think that while you may not be able to teach 30 people baseball when you're in Vietnam, there were always games going on, mostly soccer and badminton. And it seemed like the people in Hue, especially the students, were very welcoming and eager to have some new competition. They really warmed up to me, and I to them, after we got to play together. If you see an opening to join with them in sport, take it!