Archive for November 2004
I am in an internet cafe in Hue, in the middle of Vietnam. The woman at the station next to me is internet chatting with someone in Vietnamese. I don’t know how they make Vietnamese come out of a keyboard.
We flew in to Hue yesterday afternoon, and the flight was painless. It immediately feels different here: it’s lusher, greener and has even rained a few times. The city has a much more provincial feel to it, with quieter streets and a more traditional way of life. The conical hats are ubiquitous, and cyclos are the way to move everything from granny to large piece of furniture and pigs. It’s monday, and all the school girls are wearing the traditional Vietnamese outfits, the name of which I’ve forgotten. When a gaggle rides by on bicycles, it seems like something from a painting.
Hue is full of history. It was the site of a major battle during the Tet Offensive, of course, and there are still scars. There are many newer buildings from the 1970s that probably replaced those destroyed, there are pill boxes, and there is a park will about 10 rusting American tanks in it. We’re only a short trip from the DMZ and places like Khe Sanh as well. Hue was also the centre of the last dynasty in the country, and there are numerous palaces in the imperial city dating from the 19th century that we visited this morning. There are many temples and pagodas to visit as well.
We’ll stay here tonight and head to Hoi An tomorrow, where we may spend the night, or we might just come back. We fly back to Hanoi at 8:30pm the day after tomorrow.
I’ve booked a trip to Halong Bay for when I get back. I’ll spend three days there, one night being on a boat. I’ll be part of an all-inclusive tour, which is the standard way to do it. It was $60 for everything. I’m a little anxious that the trip will be full of young yahoos, but who knows. I’ve had great luck meeting people so far. Helen – I would have booked a trip through your old friend Huong at Handspan, but his company is really upscale, and seems to charge about double for the same trip. I did go into their shop and it was very swanky.
Poor Jeremy is back at the hotel recovering from some bad pho. We had a choice for breakfast this morning – eggs or pho. I chose eggs, he chose wrong.
We did have a fantastic meal last night of the famous Hue cuisine. We had a cripy omelet with shrimp smothered in peanut sauce and greens, and amazing spring rolls that you wrap yourselves using fried shimp, greens including mint, star fruit and greens figs, all dipped in zesty peanut sauce. We also had another dish of sticky rice flour and shrimp paste all cooked in a banana leaf. There was more, and I also had hot lemon juice while Jeremy had two beers. It came to all of 67,000 dong, or $5 for everything! We had delightful service from the deaf mute owner. When you don’t speak Vietnamese, I don’t think that language really matters.
Damn, I didn’t bring enough film! I’m on my last roll of the good stuff, so I’ll have to switch to something else soon. I’ve shot 8 rolls of 36 exp colour print film, plus a couple of black and white. That doesn’t include all the digital (many short video clips too).