Hue was the ancient capital of Vietnam and a major stop on the backpacker trail. It has held a mysterious grip on my imagination, for no other reason than the TET Offensive of 1968. I realize that all of my Vietnam posts contain references to the war with the Americans and to some degree the French. Some people travel for food, some for nature and some for culture experiences. I am a history nerd, always have been, always will be.
One of the longest battles of the Vietnam war was the Battle of Hue, lasting over 3 months. After dropping into a YouTube rabbit hole for a couple of hours, I emerged squinting into the sunlight of Hue. I immediately walked up and down Le Loi street with the Perfume river on my right. I found myself recounting the videos I had just watched of the bloody battles that took place along this exact street. Today Hue is a vibrant tourist town filled with ancient and modern history, incredible natural wonders, great food and smiling tourists and locals alike.
Home for 4 nights was the Homeland Hotel which like every other place I found is clean, safe and inexpensive. After all this is SE Asia. I spent time talking with Vi, who checked me in. Over a few days I discovered she is an English Teaching assistant and that their school is in need of foreign teachers. So I said to myself, self contact the school and arrange to meet someone, which I did. I am sure that my plans will not change but I now am open to all opportunities plus I am really liking Vietnam. Maybe Vietnam will "love me long time". News at 11:00
The great thing about Hue is that it is a walking city. There are 3 main bridges that run across the Perfume river and as it was explained to me, one is French, one is American and one is Vietnamese. I decided to walk over all three and they all worked just fine. When I crossed the French bridge I felt arrogant, the American I felt superior, the Vietnamese I felt hungry, so I ate. These bridges were not real close together and I was starving.
The main attraction in Hue is the Imperial City. It was massive although it was also in need of some up keep. Roads leading into the walled palace were packed with Tuk Tuk drivers and they were as aggressive as wolverines and it worked, usually with the bus loads of Chinese picture taking tourists. I spend a few hours wandering around. I should have hired a guide but regardless I was a creeper and followed an English tour around the grounds picking up enough information to keep me entertained. The guide knowingly smiled and gave me the "it's fine look". I tipped him on the way out. Karma is king!
When you leave the Imperial City you will find a small open aired History Museum. There was a guy at the ticket counter and the gate was open but he told me they were closed and did so with authority. I love making new friends. Anyways you could walk around the compound and view tanks, cannons, guns, planes and other relics of the war. So screw him, I kept my dollar and took my pictures.
As I walked back to my hotel I came across a raised concrete barrier and it took me no time to realize, and thanks to an English speaking tour that was near by, this was indeed a bunker used by the NVA during the Battle of Hue. I was surrounded by Ancient and 20th Century history.
That was my first day in Hue. I was incredibly excited to be here. As I wandered down the alleyway to my hotel from the opposite end that I had left earlier in the day, I came across the Secret Lounge. First thing I heard was classic rock music pumping out, second was a sign that said "happy hour" and finally a smiling face that said "hello, I think you need a beer. Come and enjoy happy hour"...and it was so. It turns out this is one of the best Expat bars in town and it is a 5 minute walk to my hotel.
To top off a good day I played pool for a few hours with various people, chatted with others at the bar or watched what was becoming a steady downpour outside. I also noticed the water was pooling considerably on the street. "You better have another beer" my logical self dictated..and it was so. With the rain now a torrential downpour I figured screw it and off I went into the night.
Easy enough, the water was up to the soles of my feet but with each step it was getting deeper. I guess I was going downhill and it was...."holy crap where did that come from"? Water meet my knees. I was halfway back and was suddenly knee high in street water with Mother Natures rage raining down upon me. Scooters were boldly giving it their best shot and with each step people looked out at me from the comfort of their dry spaces, smiling and waving. Naturally I smiled and waved back.
I passed a small cafe and heard "hey, you need a beer", come and get dry...and it was so.