The journey from Hoi An is only about three and a half hours, but it could have been a more comfortable ride if they’d given us a fresh bus. It seems the bus has been travelling overnight from somewhere and we just join it at the end of its journey. This means the air in the bus is very stuffy – it’s like all the oxygen has been spent and replaced by the air of cheesy feet, and as we can’t open any windows we’re stuck with this lovely atmosphere…
We had done some research about hotels the evening before in Hoi An and had a few options selected. As we come off the bus we get approached by a lady who’s suggesting we go to Ngoc Binh Hotel with a free taxi. We usually stay well clear of touts, but this time it was a good deal we got offered. The hotel she was promoting was one of the ones on the top of the list of our favourites researched the evening before, and at the same price as we expected to pay for that hotel. I’m sure the tout still make some money on this arrangement, but had we made our own way there we’d still would have paid the same for the room plus of course an extra £8 for the taxi. As it’s still a little early we have to wait a bit for our room to be ready and we head out to get a bite to eat – of course leaving too early from Hoi An we didn’t have a chance to get anything to eat and by now we’re imploding. Next to the hotel is a nice little bar where we sit down for a nice little meal, and while waiting for our food we have a game of Jenga.
After breakfast we go back over to our hotel but our room isn’t quite finished, but we’re able to put our backpacks in there. We decide to head out to explore the old citadel, a world heritage site. By foot in the scorching mid-day sun it takes us a little while to reach the entrance to the citadel, and as I’m in desperate need of more sun-cream I keep looking around to find some kind of store that would sell some. Hardly anything is open, so it’s a lost cause, but this of course makes the journey to the citadel significantly slower than it should be, meaning more exposure to the hot sun, so by the time we reach our destination we’re already a bit exhausted. We wander about inside the grounds admiring the architecture but learn that most of the place had been completely destroyed by the Americans during the Vietnam War.
After wandering about inside the citadel we’re feeling a bit parched to say the least and stop by a cafe for something to drink and rest our feet for a bit. The Lady that runs the shop tries to sell us everything between heaven and earth while trying to suck every passerby into the cafe. Normally we would get annoyed by this behaviour but found it quite amusing this time. Next door there is some sort of drunken argument happening and it’s lasting for quite some time – seems to be over a girl but it’s difficult to tell when not understanding a dickybird. If nothing else it’s entertaining and it makes every passerby stop for a while to have a nose at the escalating spectacle.
On our map there is a tomb marked off as a historical attraction and we decide to head down too it, again on foot as it’s not too far away. It does however take us a bit of time to walk there as it’s not the most convenient roads to walk along – it would appear we’re a rare breed of tourists walking along these bustling roads as people are staring at us as if they’ve never seen foreigners around this part of town before – most tourist it would seem come down here by bus or taxi. After about four kilometres we finally reach this tomb and realise it’s not much to write home about really, we’re slightly disappointed and decide to flag a taxi to get back to the hotel. With our luck there are no taxies in sight so we start walking back in the hope that we’ll find one on the way – no such luck… We end up walking all the way back to our hotel of course.
For the next day we arrange for a sightseeing tour to the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) area. It’s a full day of sightseeing but most of it is time spent getting there and back – it’s a fair distance from Hue. Along the way we visit the view of The Rockpile – an important US observation post and artillery base. A bridge marking the start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Battle Hills and American air-strip at Khe Sanh, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Gio Linh Graveyard. After this we return to Hue, and tired from the sightseeing we have dinner and then just relax and take an early night.
Our next destination is Hanoi and we’ve decided to go by air as we’re running out of time here in Vietnam. It’s one of those gruelling early morning starts again, so no breakfast resulting in two very hungry souls arriving in Hanoi (no restaurant at Hue Airport, only two snack-stands and several souvenir shops).