Show me the Hue!
Hue Travel Blog› entry 23 of 43 › view all entries
March 16th, 2008 – by: worldcitizen
We put our stuff away and then headed to lunch around the corner from our hotel at Mandarin Cafe. I ordered chicken (forgettable) and sauteed morning glory (fantastic). After lunch, most of the group went off to explore Hue, but five of us hung around in the hotel lobby, chatting and poking around on the free internet. We started to feel like we were wasting time so we asked the staff at the hotel to arrange a motorcycle tour.
We turned off the city streets onto paths that were too small for cars through forests and quaint neighborhoods. We stopped briefly at a Buddha statue. It wasn't too impressive, but we all had huge smiles on our faces. The ride was great in itself and we were now convinced of Hue's beauty. We headed off to the next surprise.
We stopped in the forest where there appeared to be ruins. I thought it was great. But according to one of the drivers, we still hadn't quite reached our point of interest. They lead us down through the gates of an incredible monastery where monks and nuns were meditating and chatting amongst themselves.
We roamed through the monastery and then headed over to a shop where they had these great scrolls with sayings like, "Enjoy Your Breathing." My favorite simply said, "Be Free Where You Are." I later learned that where we were is called Tu Hieu Temple and the monastery there is where Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Vietnamese monk first studied.
The next stop was obviously a shopping stop. Along each side of a peaceful road were vendors selling cone hats, artwork, and mostly incense. You could tell it was geared towards tourists. If you want, the sales people will let you try to roll some incense. Most were laid back about selling to us. One sales woman had a different approach. She had seen someone in our group take a picture of a kid. So as we walked by, she told a girl, who I assume was her daughter, to sit at the table and roll the incense. She eagerly pointed at the girl so we could see and hopefully buy incense from her. She was very obviously trying to use the girl's cuteness to sell us the incense.
As we approached our next stop, we sped up the hill through a grove of interesting looking pine trees. We parked and walked to the top which had a stunning view of the Perfume River. After enjoying the view, they lead us slightly down through some bushes to a former American military bunker.
On the way to our last stop, we zipped along a zigzagging narrow path through rice paddies. It was exhilarating. Thankfully, no one veered off into a rice field and we all arrived safely at our destination. It was Ho Quyen, a former tiger and elephant fighting arena. It's been over a century since the last fight, so don't worry about this still going on! The fights were staged by kings who had the tigers' teeth and claws removed.
We showered and headed to dinner at La Carambole. It was cute, but another one of those places that's supposed to be good yet I have no recollection of what I ate. What I do remember was how I ordered "Coco Punch" and it was taking forever for them to bring it to me. The waitresses assured me that it was on its way. I saw them coming with it from a distance and hoped what I saw wasn't for me. Sure enough, they brought the huge coconut beverage with all sorts of accoutrements to me.
After dinner we walked down the streets and looked in some shops. I was excited to find an inexpensive silk sleep sheet that I could use on the overnight train. I didn't know what a sleep sheet was before the trip, but they are really handy when dealing with questionably clean sleeping situations!
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!