I got burnt today. The only cure is a trip to the beach tomorrow.
I spent a while outside today roaming through Hue. I jogged down one of the main roads in the morning, and by 8am was walking toward the main tourist/historical location in the city. The old Royal Palace is a massive palace, or what’s left of it after it was bombed and torn apart during the Vietnam War. In the map below you can clearly see how it used to be a completely fortified and self-contained structure within the city itself.
For 80,000 Dong – roughly $4 – you can wander through the old courtyards and imagine what used to be here. There are a couple of pagodas and covered areas throughout the grounds, but ultimately this is a place where you’ll be walking outside in the sun. It was 90 a humid today, so there was quite a bit of sun and sweat.
This isn’t the only thing to do in town, although it’s the only tomb/historical site I visited today. There are two other ‘major’ tombs and palaces in the city, but they are more than a good walk away from the center of town. One of the ways you typically visit them all is on a tourist boat down the river that runs through the entire city. That river is known as the Perfume River. Visiting all of the stops takes about 5 hours, and with the skies darkening once again in the afternoon, I didn’t want to take any chances on the weather.
I did take a 45 minute ride up the river, although the sights were mainly of the locals and not any tombs. Everything in Vietnam is negotiable. While walking down the area where all of the boats dock, I was approached by someone looking to sell me a 1-hour ride for 150,000 Dong. Without naming a specific price and simply saying that I wasn’t interested, that I wanted to take pictures of the park, and that I was hungry, the price quickly came down to 100,000. Five Dollars for a 1-hour ride. Not knowing if this was actually a good deal or not, I decided that for $5 if I was getting ripped off, I was okay with it. When I got on the boat…and was the only person on the boat, I quickly realized that this girl and her family lived on the boat. Now I felt bad for talking her down 33%. So, after about 5 minutes after we embarked and she pulled out a bunch of crap for me to buy, I relented and purchased a bottle of water for 50 cents and two embroidered postcards for $2. Overall it was 150,000 Dong ($7.50) for a 45 minute ride and a bottle of water.
Tomorrow morning I have a train to Da Nang. I had originally thought that I would take the train (75,000 Dong) to Da Nang and then get the local bus to Ha Noi – since that’s where I had thought I was going next. Instead, I’m going to spend a day (at least) in Da Nang. I’m not entirely sure what’s there, although I hear there are beaches. I think that I need to stop taking one-day trips to various cities since the travel costs/hotel costs will add up from moving constantly, but I’m making an exception since I was going to have to go to Da Nang regardless. From there I think I’ll stay in Hoi An for 3ish days, and then move down the coast to a city called Na Trang. Ultimately I need to leave Vietnam, and I believe that will happen from Ho Chi Minh City. Depending on how long I stay at the couple of places I’ve just listed, I may get over to Phu Quoc, but we’ll see. I’ve discovered that round trip airfare to that island is $80, so for that price I’d want to stay more than just 2-3 days.
A few other random thoughts from the day:
(PS – These pictures may take forever to load since I accidentally uploaded them as full size images…)
(PPS – There are a lot of other pictures on the “photos” page to check out.)
I saw the best kite ever.
I found a Hobbit’s Hole!
I’m fairly sure the Asian concept of “white is pretty” is in full play here; there’s no explanation for why anyone would dress like this when it’s 90 and humid as all hell:
I’m almost 100% convinced these were in the Castlevania games:
I assume any and every white person in a Tuk-Tuk is a lazy American.
It was apparently laundry day: