Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Cycling Adventure In Hué

Outside the Imperial City
We were up early to make the most of our one day in Hué as we had an overnight bus onto Ninh Binh that evening. The most important thing to see was the Imperial City and we decided that the quickest way to get around would be on a bike so we hired two from our hotel and set out. Again we were charged for ‘parking’ at the entrance to the Imperial City but we were getting used to this and at least we knew that our bikes would be watched out for. 

Our tasty noodle soup
Again, the war had destroyed most of the City, including the once beautiful Palace. Fortunately there were still some picturesque sections left and the restored sections gave a good idea of what it must have once looked like. It took a good couple of hours to explore the citadel and we were hot and sweaty afterwards so we grabbed our bikes and rode towards the river. En route we stopped for a much needed ice coffee we gave us enough energy to ride through town, out passed the train station and on towards the Royal Tombs. 

Guardians of the Tomb
We passed a family ‘restaurant’ as we were slogging up a hill and decided it was a good time to stop for lunch. No one spoke English but we managed to order two noodle soups from the massive boiling vat, and they were very tasty and thankfully didn’t contain any unknown pieces of meat. Refuelled, we thanked the nice lady and continued our hot ride onto the tombs. The road was hillier than we had expected and we were drenched by the time we arrived at the first tomb.
It took about half an hour to explore the tomb but we were a bit pressed for time so we hurriedly continued onto the next one which we actually couldn’t enter but just view from outside. We cycled around it and then turned around to head back to town, with a cold red bean ice cream on the way to help cool back down. 

Entrance to the Tomb
We were tired by the time we finally pedalled back into town, 20km on dodgy bikes in the heat will do that to you! We found a place open in the late afternoon and enjoyed a few Bia hơi’s (fresh beers) with fresh spring rolls, again delicious – when you’re onto a good thing, stick with it! Afterwards we returned our bikes and relaxed for half an hour in the aircon of the foyer of our hotel before collecting our bags and walking to the bus stop. 

We had a light, early dinner while we waited for our bus and also bought some nice sweet pastries from the French patisserie next door – and they were almost French quality! (Although, maybe it had just been too long since our last real French pastries….) 

The second tomb which we couldn't enter
When we boarded our bus we were surprised to find it was quite comfy, much more so than a seat on the train, and we both fell asleep even before the 7pm food and toilet stop. We discovered that the food at the stop was actually quite cheap so we decided some phở would be good and we ordered two bowls. They were huge and thanks to our pre-dinner dinner and pastries we were totally overfull by the time we reboarded. This might explain we neither of slept particularly well for the rest of the night even though our bus driver actually drove quite sensibly and we didn’t feel unsafe at all for the journey – a nice change for once!

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