With our limited time in Hue the quickest and easiest way to see everything we needed to see was by motorbike. This time we weren't given the option of driving our own, which was a wise decision since traffic is way crazier here.
We checked out of our room and were off at 8 a.m., all but 1 of the entire group. Our first stop was a local rice farming village. It had 1000 inhabitants which just happens to be the same size as my hometown. I think it's crazy that if the dice would had rolled another way I could have been born in white rice Vietnam, instead of white bread North Dakota.
We went to a small rice museum, where an 82-year-old woman with jet black teeth showed us how rice is harvested. It was interesting to see how it's done since I had no idea how the green stalks in the paddy turned into edible rice. I am not exaggerating when I say this woman was as tall as my belly button, and she wasn't a dwarf. She was just incredibly, ridiculously tiny. I feel like such a giant! The little lady sang us a rice crushing song, which Marv videotaped and has since replayed 200 times. We all thought it was pretty entertaining and overall rough on the ears.
We drove up to another abandoned American bunker, which all seem to have incredible views, and took a few awesome panoramic river pictures. It was so beautiful up there and, blessedly, breezy too.
On the way back to the motorbike I didn't see a gigantic rock on the road and kicked it HARD with my flip flopped foot. The nail on my middle toe immediately filled with blood underneath and I'm pretty sure broke in half, right in the middle. I get freaked out if I look at it too long so I just bandaged it up and hope to God it doesn't pop off. What would I do then?! Yikes! Two injures in two days. Somebody put me in a straight jacket!
We then went to an old Vietnamese king's tomb, though they don't know exactly where on the grounds he's buried since he's buried with a lot of valuables. There's no more royalty here since the Commies took over. Then we drove to a Coliseum-like arena (much smaller, though) where said royalty would have elephants and declawed tigers fight each other for their entertainment. That sounds like some seriously sick entertainment.
We made a quick stop by the citadel and a pagoda, but by this time I was getting sun weary and mentally checked out. The architecture is beautiful, looks more fitting for China, but I didn't get a whole lot of useful information about what I was seeing.
On the way back into town we stopped at a road side stand that makes incense and other handicrafts. I don't burn incense because I'm not Buddhist and don't have the need to cover up the small of weed, but I was in the market for a tote bag that I can keep our laptop and other carry-on travel items handy. And I succeeded! I got this hand embroidered bag for $5. They wanted $6.50 for it but I wasn't about to pay that much so I very gently dipped my toe into the waters of haggling. I am more than willing to pay $5 to finally throw away my ghetto ICA grocery bag.
We had to cram in all our Hue sightseeing in the morning since we had to leave in mid-afternoon for our next night train. We left our hotel at 2 since the train left at 3, or at least we hoped it would. We sat there an extra hour and 45 freaking minutes until the train finally decided to arrive. We were all so wiped from our early start that day that, like toddlers, we immediately went down for a nap as soon as we got access to our bunk beds. We slept like the dead. It was the most glorious nap I ever remember taking.
We hadn't had a shower since before 8 a.m. (with was many hot, sweaty, dusty hours ago) so we were all feeling quite grody. These trains don't have toilet paper, much less showers, so we had to fester the entire evening and night. They turned off the air conditioning at night, which was a decision that filled me with murderous rage. That train was literally a sweat lodge on tracks. It was BOILING hot in there. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were absolutely POURING sweat. My pillow was drenched. By the time we got to our destination I am amazed that my clothes hadn't disintegrated straight off me. GROSS!
We tried to be social and enjoy some drinks but the beverage cart quickly ran out and we were all tired and feeling disgusting from our long day. We hit the hay by 11 p.m. and arrived, amazingly on time, at 5 a.m. to Hanoi.
But Hanoi was not our final destination. We were headed for Halong Bay, a 3 hour drive outside of Hanoi. So we got on our bus at the crack of dawn and headed 3 hours east. You can about imagine how wild and crazy that bus ride was.