The hot, muggy air fell on us like steaming blankets as soon as we stepped out of the cool train that we had been cooped up in for the last twenty hours. Because of the heavy flooding, the journey took nearly double the scheduled time. It was so good to stretch my legs further than just to the filthy train toilet.
The loud calls of the taxis and cyclos welcomed us to Hue, a city we would come to love in the four days we spent there. It was early evening and as we walked down the busy main road. We stopped several times to look at the lit up monuments and artworks that added decoration to the riverside greenery. Small plastic chair pavement restaurants dotted the strip beside the big brown river and it looked like everyone was enjoying themselves. We definitely were!
A few kilometres later, the grand four star Century hotel caught our attention with it’s broad stairs, large columns and welcoming lights. Ruzow exclaimed excitedly: “It looks much better than on the website!” We oohed and aahed as we walked up the shiny polished steps and into the richly decorated lobby. We were received with cool lemon tea as a “welcome drink”. Our two rooms were absolutely wonderful with beautiful river views. After we unpacked our few belongings, our next step was towards the street just opposite our hotel, for dinner.
We ventured down the bustling and festive lane that was filled with restaurants and bars, all spilling over into the street. After searching for what felt like a lifetime, we found the perfect place. At Mr. Tao’s we sat on small wooden chairs among a sea of Asian faces, all having a fabulous time watching the crowd flow by. The six of us sat tightly around a small, low wooden table that barely had enough space for our six tiny bowls. Amazingly, the plates of delicious clam and cheese, dry noodle beef and of course two of Hue’s Huda beers could also fit. We had front row seats to the show, sitting basically IN the street. It was so interesting seeing all kinds of people embrace the Friday festivities with friends or family. I could have sat there for hours. The streets were absolutely FILLED! Our first night in Hue, having dinner on the sidewalk of the “walking street” with the locals, has a special place in my heart.
The next day, we went to visit the famous Hue Citadel. It is a huge complex of colourful gates, decorated walls, lakes and canals and traditional buildings. This used to be the emperor’s palace. We spent four hours lost in the maze that we could not get enough of. It touched me that above every gate, on every wall, in every building, somewhere, you could find some form of a poem. Of course, we could not read it, but the thought and sight of the detailed characters amazed me.
We were convinced that we found the best Vietnamese food in the country. So good that we went there for dinner twice during our stay. We met a young lady, Nhu y, who was our waitress both times. She was very friendly and outgoing and told us many things about herself and her city. The second time was nothing short of amazing! A dragon carved from carrots, guarded the food on our table. We were served complementary homemade drinks and a traditional dessert. It was super special. We asked Nhu y about a toy we have seen many children play with in Vietnam. She gave us a brief description and told us that it is called a “cau”. We were thrilled when she offered to buy us each one and deliver it to us at our hotel.
Nhu y arrived at our hotel as we were heading down for breakfast the next morning. Not only did she bring four caus, but a whole bag of gifts and goodies. We each received a beautiful notebook and pen, a pack of UNO cards and cool hair bands. It was wonderful and such a pleasant surprise. This is why we travel the world, to seek such connections with the local people and to make new friends. Thank you so much Nhu y for your friendliness and kindness towards us. It was such a pleasure to meet you and become such good friends. Looking forward to your visit in Australia! 😉
Hue was a wonderfully colourful and vibrant city. It was great to be part of its pulse, even if it was only for four days.
Until next time,