Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 16: Hue Day 1

Since we already had a day in Hoi An yesterday we decided to sleep in this morning. We weren't leaving until 1 p.m. and didn't have to be out of the hotel room until noon, so why not? Food service being what it is (read: slow as hell) we checked out at 11 a.m. so we could get some food in us for the bus ride ahead.

We searched restaurants on TripAdvisor and found one that was easy to find. I had pork wantons with homemade sweet and sour "sauce", which as you might remember was my favorite dish last night at the cooking class. And you know what? I liked mine better. I can't wait to make this at home! I also had a chocolate "milkshake", which was more like the best glass of chocolate milk ever, on steroids. I am very, very wary of their dairy here (milk is not refrigerated!) but it was well worth chancing gastrointestinal problems, which luckily never arrived. It was amazingly delish.

We left for a 4 hour drive to Hue, which is farther north in Vietnam. We drove through beautiful, picturesque mountains. These are the mountains that the Top Gear guys traveled on their motorbikes - I beg of you to watch that video if you haven't already! It was breathtaking, and not half as scary as some of our tour mates made it out to be. Guard rails and a reasonable speed do not a death defying drive make.

About half way through the mountains we stopped at an abandoned American bunker for panoramic views of the river (not sure which) and to buy some seriously cheap - real - pearl jewelry. All of us girls were told by the hawkers we "look way younger" than we are (ha!) but I wasn't in the mood for shopping. Though I see < $10 pearls in my near future.

Just as we were entering Hue I was snoozing and felt the driver SLAM on the brakes and lay on the horn. Marv saw what caused this reaction, and apparently we were very, VERY close to running over a 5 year old child. I shudder to think what the hell would have happened had we hit it. This was an early, and valuable, lesson to learn about the traffic in Hue. It's nowhere near as civilized as it is down south.

We only had 1 day in Hue so we had to make the most of it. Right away we rented a boat to take us down the river (again, not sure which) to see the city skyline. We even bought a few beers to bring with us for the 1-hour ride, because that's how we do. Imagine my elation at finding ice cold Budweiser in the store! Sadly, it was about as Budweiser-y as a can of spent motor oil so I'm glad I only bought one. Budweiser FAIL, sad for me.

As luck would have it we left for the boat tour right at sunset, which starts at the ridiculously early hour of 6 p.m., which my northern dwelling self can't get used to.
It was a beautiful, pleasant ride despite them trying to sell us nick nacky stuff the entire trip. It's an annoying fact of life being here.

As we were disembarking the boat we had to walk a plank to get from the boat to dry land, and as I was concentrating on not falling off the plank I rammed my face into a rusty sheet of corrugated metal that was conveniently located at face level. It hurt, yes, but it seriously freaked me out because had it been located a few inches lower there's no doubt in my mind I'd be blind in my right eye. I hit that sucker hard. Lucky for me it hit my forehead (which is weird since my eyebrow hurt) and lucky for me I just got my tetanus shot updated before I came. I got a little cut on my forehead so Marv has taken to calling me "Scar Face", since he's loving and supportive like that.

We then went out to dinner and for drinks at a bar called DMZ, which stands for Demilitarized Zone for those of you not down on your Vietnamese history. Sadly, it was my dear friend Amanda's wedding day back in North Dakota which I could not be there for, so I called her as she was getting ready for her big day. I hope she had a super fabulous day, and knows that I will celebrate with her as soon as I am able!

We hit the DMZ a little bit harder than we should have (story of our lives, right?) since tomorrow will hold yet another motorbike tour for us!

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