Vietnam 2012: Day 4 - Hue

Part 1: Hoi An and My Son, Part 2: Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue, Part 3: Hue, Part 4: Train Ride + Saigon, Part 5: Saigon, Part 6: The End

P/S 1: As I mentioned in the previous post, here is where we booked our motorbike rider tour around Hue. Check out the cute owner when you visit the cafe!! :p

P/S 2: Tino asks me to hurry up!! Arghh!!!

P/S 3: Most of the info of the places is copied from the Stop&Go Cafe or the internet.

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The hotel provides complimentary breakfast, and we have a menu to choose from. The Hue beef noodle soup is nice!!

Our motorbike drivers picked us up from the hotel at 8AM local time.
1)OH did I tell you how cute the Vietnamese motorbike helmet is? It is so cute I almost bought one for myself! Knowing it would be useless in Malaysia (SIRIM for sure ban this kind of helmet), I didn't buy in the end.
2) You MUST try one of these motorbike tour, provided you must have a strong heart and adventurous!As some of you might already know, SEA countries' traffic is extremely hectic and chaos (OH and China too OhMiFreakingGoodness), so the motorbike tour type brings you into their daily chaotic traffic life that you'll never forget!

Each of us has a designated driver and motorbike, with helmet too since it's compulsory now. I accidentally scratched my knee at the motorbike's plate when getting up the motor. Another foreigner, a Swedish named Michael, joined us along too.

With my driver ^^
1 Countryside and Thanh Toan wooden bridge
The first stop is to a wooden bridge through the countryside road, literally! From the big main road, we entered the small narrow kampung road, it reminds me of those Chekok/Tendong/etc (Kelantan's outskirt villages) road, and it's totally awesome! We got to feel first hand the motorbikes 'fight' on the road!

Crossing one of the narrow bridges
The wooden bridge is a house constructed above a bridge, made from high quality wood and tile-roofed, with a length of 17 meters and width of 4 meters. ...and yes, we referred it as one of the well-known 'Japanese bridge again LOL...

Thanh Toan Wooden Bridge - in distant
Beside the bridge is a museum/display centre, displaying various equipments for the paddy field. The content is similar to those in Muzium Padi in Alor Star, Kedah; in fact, my paternal grandparents' place has one of those equipments too!


Above the bridge is a handful of locals, be it sitting, hanging out or sleeping, and one of the old ladies is a fortune teller, who approaches each visitor when they cross the bridge. When we were on our way going out, the old lady sat down with one lady, talking to her.

********Random fact time**********
One thing about Vietnam is, the rice is so finger-licking good!! I never tried Thailand's rice, so no comment on that. Malaysia's rice, OK lah, out of 100 times eating the rice, maybe 15-20 not so good. However, Vietnamese rice has some sort of 'greatness' in it, it tastes so good every time I had them! Anyway, the paddy field scene is totally no stranger to me, I even LOLed at it when I see one. The motorbike tour took us around the countryside, which literally include the ride around paddy field, I LOLed at the scene so hard as it was like me going around Kangar-Kuala Perlis! :p

See? Got difference ke?
**********END**********

2 Tu Hieu Pagoda

After plenty of twists and turns at the small countryside road, we arrived at a temple which is like in the middle of nowhere, but we'd sure meet the pestering locals trying to sell their products.
(oh yeah one of our motor nearly knocked down a reckless kid who cycled without looking at the road, and the rest of the drivers scolded him in Vietnamese language, which I suspect some vulgars in it LOL)

I get somewhat confused with their use of temple and pagoda of the places. The temple/pagoda is surrounded by the solemn forest with not-so-colorful trees and the buildings and temples and pagodas are overwhelmed with those very ancient feeling kind of colours. There is a huge pond containing very big size fishes and an archway greeting us at the entrance, and a small stretch of slippery and moldy walkways toward the temple. Inside the temple, there were two teenager-alike monks praying.
Entrance
Info time: Known as the "root pagoda" of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Tu Hieu Pagoda is not only a place where monks seek enlightenment but also where people can find a serene, safe haven or even learn meditation. An interesting thing is seeing monks chanting in this temple.


Well, the monks chanting thing is one, another interesting thing about the monks is that, they keep a small 'bunch' (literally) of hair above their forehead. According to the driver, it is to prepare for a scenario when the monk reaches adult age and decides not to pursue a monk's life, they can return to the common mortal world 'easily' and almost immediately (IF I didn't get him wrong -_-).


3 Incense stick making place

We stopped at one of the incense making shop beside the road to make how incense sticks are made (which looks freakingly easy but oh no it's not) and to 'get conned'.


At first I thought it is part of the tour's itinerary, but it was Tino's idea to 'add on' this place. I didn't resent her for this since it's a good place to visit anyway, but she got a little 'confused' as why she spent money on this place!

I tried, and trust me it's not easy
Yup, she bought some stuffs here which she couldn't explain why she bought that and it's kinda overpriced.

Move on~~~


4 Vong Canh Hill

Another twists and turns (we passed by a school when their classes ended, and more kiddie monks with that small bunch of hair LOL!!), we arrived at a somewhat foot of a hill, and the view going up the hill was astonishing!!


All the trees are aligned in a symmetrical way, tall and thin, leading up the hill, so 'Avatar' feel!!
(Yup, everything greens and jungle-ry belongs to Avatar!! Although Avatar is bluish)


Info time: Vong Canh, which means 'viewing landscape', is the best hill top in Hue to survey the sampans traveling up and down the Huong River (Perfume River). There are few forts on the hill, we went down one of them and it felt creepy -_-


Vong Canh hill overlooks the Perfume River and panorama shots practice is a must! Tino successfully conned Keong into believing this is Halong Bay! LOL Biggest joke ever for the day. Even the driver guide said 'NO' so loud to him when Keong mentioned it.


5 Tu Duc Tomb

Info time: The tomb of Tu Duc, the 'poet Emperor', is set in an elegant garden with a magnificent lake and pavilion complex. The centrepiece of the tomb is simplicity itself despite the lavish opulence of his reign. Being a romantic, the king immersed himself in the world he created at the site of his tomb. The king ordered the construction of his tomb to be a fairyland with poetical features, making it a lifetime dream and a world of his eternal life after death.


In other words, Tu Duc Tomb is the second imperial city aka the 'summer house' where the emperor often came to relax himself. Some part of this place was quite solemn as the leaves were dry, leaving the empty trees and branches surrounding the places.


Most of the wooden buildings were either empty, too dangerous to be opened to public, or nearly demolished. The rest of the stony buildings, were magnificent. The greyish buildings blend well with the trees surrounding it, with the awesome tombs all over the place.


There are few more tombs available for visit, but due to our time constraint and route (the tombs are located at different areas), we visited this one as it is the largest and most famous among them.


6 Tiger Arena

This place was seriously disappointing. One, it does not open to public, the main gate is locked and there's no way in to the arena; Two, the truth about this place is biased.


When we arrived at the place, we, I mean I was surprised that the main gate was locked. The outer view of the arena looks like the structure of Colosseum, except the 'fighters' in this arena was not human, but animals, tigers and elephants to be specific.

The bias part is, in those good old days, the king loved to see shows and performance and stuff, so the duels between elephants and tigers were arranged for the entertainment of the Nguyen court and the public. However, as the elephant symbolized the king, the teeth and nails of the tiger were pulled away so the tiger could not attack or injure the elephant, thus in the end of the day, the elephant (aka the king) won the duel. If the tiger counterattacked the elephant and won, the tiger would be killed. =.= So bias right? It literally pissed Tino off when we watched the documentaries about the place in Citadel later the day.


7 Thien Mu Pagoda

This time, we headed back to the city, and my driver (I think he tried to impress me for the tips) introduced the churches, temples, pagodas and stuff along the way enthusiastically.

Thien Mu Pagoda has two sections. The front of the Pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and has the Phuoc Duyen tower which for me, it looks like the one in 虎丘 Hu Qiu, SuZhou China.


There is an old rusty car displayed at the back of the pagoda. It was the car used by Thich Quang Duc, in 1963, in a defying act against the Diem regime, he burned himself in downtown Saigon.


8 Citadel

Info time: The Citadel Complex of Hue, set up by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945, is now one amongst the relics of the Hue ancient Capital. It is a huge complex covering an area of 520ha and comprising three circles of ramparts, Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel) and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel).


Note that this was our last stop, and the driver dropped us here, and we have to walk back to our hotel. It's in the agreement.

Tino and I had quite an arguement (a good way) about this place, as the 'centre' of this Citadel is also known as the 'Purple Forbidden Palace'. Sounds familiar? Not only that, it has the structures similar to the one in Beijing, and even the main hall is called Hall of Supreme Harmony 太和殿. Most of the structures were destroyed during the war and other chaotic moments, so the Citadel undergoes a series of restoration procedure.

There was a big screen TV showing the documentaries about the Citadel, and another TV at the side showed the story about Tiger Arena, where we learned the true fact about that place. The rest of the place was far beyond my expectation, because I did not expect this...


...to look like behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Once upon a time, the kings and queens' residence were here. My jaw dropped when I saw this, as there's nothing but a large space of greenery and some broken buildings.

Tried to make up to the entrance fee we paid and not to be too disrespect to the country's ancient imperial city, we took a walk around the palace, to the back gate and walk up to the front via garden route, both tired and confused.


This marks the end of our motorbike tour. Entrance fees of some places were not covered (forgot which one, sorry), and meal was exclusive too.

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Leaving Citadel, almost 2pm local time, hungry, we searched up and down for a place to eat and the famous Dong Ba market. Surprisingly, the road opposite Dong Ba market has absolutely no restaurants!


Info time: Dong Ba Market is the biggest commercial center of Thua Thien - Hue province. Only 100 meters to the North of Trang Tien Bridge, it stands along the North bank of Huong River, on Tran Hung Dao Street of Hue City.
In other words, it is pretty hard to miss if you follow the map, as the market itself is like a length of road!

As we were so hungry at the time, and Michael, the Swedish guy, wanted to try some local food, we sorted to our highest limit - tried the local nasi ekonomi zap fan.


When we entered the food court-alike in the market, the aunty greeted us enthusiastically, so we gave her a chance. We didn't know how to order, nor she could speak no English, we just ate anything she gave us.


The food wasn't so bad, but some of the gravy she put was too salty, and the veggie tasted funny.

We walked around the market, spotted a stall selling Ao Dai (the Vietnamese traditional outfit), bought one for Shir-B-Lyn, Keong bought one for his boss's sister or someone, and I regretted not to buy one there.

By the time we went back to hotel, the sky had turned dark, and all of us were exhausted. The day ended with us shopping at BigC local supermarket for next day's 18-hour train ride, and dinner at one of the roadside restaurant that the food portion shocked us.

To be cont...

Comments

tino said…
hile 3 Incense stick making place is not REPLACE, si ADD-ON a.

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