The roads in Hue were much wider, less busy, and more ordered than Hanoi. We therefore felt brave enough to rent bikes and cycle around. This was cheap and the bikes were delivered to the hotel within minutes – talk about good service! We soon found that cycling there was really fun!
It was nerve wracking when I went across my first big crossroads, as there were people turning at the junction, so going across my path. However when I successfully sailed across the crossroads, it was so exhilarating and I felt like whooping with joy! I stuck to the English way of being “in lane” (ie. If you’re going to turn left, keep left), and signaling with my arm if I was intending to turn. I probably looked stupid as no-one else was doing that, but it felt instinctive to me – then at least they would know what I was doing, which I thought would keep me safer!
Cycling around the town was a lovely way to see it, and we saw the grand looking Citadel on-bike. Bizarrely though, some of the local teenagers found it amusing to hit my boyfriend when he was riding his bike! They would ride alongside him and reach over and slap him on the arm or back! My poor love! We’re still not sure why…!
We also cycled out to a Pagoda called the Thien Mu Pagoda. We took it in turns; one staying with the bikes and the other going into the Pagoda area. When it was my turn I found it almost intoxicating – the beauty of the temple and the sweet smell of incense burning in the air. I watched some small boys dressed as monks praying reverently. I was surprised and impressed that they were behaving so well and taking their prayer so seriously. But then the prayer finished and one got up and kicked another up the bum, which made me laugh – they were still 8 year olds, after all! 🙂
When cycling back from the Pagoda, we went through some unspoilt countryside, past houses and farmland. When we reached the main road into town, we got stuck on one side of the road and couldn’t cross back as the traffic was heavy. My boyfriend spotted a gap in the traffic and made a run for it. Unfortunately he ended up cutting up a local on his motorbike, making him swerve. Instead of honking his horn or cursing my BF, he stopped his bike, walked over to me, grabbed the handlebars of my bike, gestured for me to follow him, and walked into the road with me following like a duckling. He got me across safely, and I was so grateful to him for this sweet gesture.
Hue at night felt safe to wander around and there were quite a few tourists also enjoying the town. We had the usual dubious honour of being approached by people selling stuff, and as usual they proceeded to go through each and every item they were selling, with us politely saying “No thank you” every time. One night we were strolling around when a guy on a bike offered to sell us marijuana. I was quite shocked as the town had seemed so innocent and unspoilt to me. But I suspect this is probably a good little earner for him, given that Hue is on the tourist trail.
Getting to Hue
Getting to Hue was difficult. It should have been easy – a short flight from Hanoi. But the flight was delayed 6 hours. We were stuck in a small airport terminal – basically 1 large room, with some seats and a food vendor, accompanied by several irate Europeans. After pleading and negotiating with the airline, we were granted a free meal. But despite our efforts, the lady at the food bar refused to produce the goods. Cue much negotiation between the airline, food vendor, and angry customers, made worse when a Spanish lady said she saw a rat running around near the food vendor!
I should also add that Hue is pronounced “Hoo-ay”, not like the English word “hue” which is pronounced “Hugh”! When I said we were flying to “Hugh”, no-one had any idea what I was talking about!
Overall we had a lovely time in Hue – it was a beautiful and serene town and I would highly recommend a visit. Sadly, we got food poisoning there and therefore our long journey to Danang was somewhat challenging, as you will see in the next blog!
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