I’m just going to put it out there, Hue is boring. Really, really boring! The last three days here have been an exercise in frustration – we’ve been truly bored for the first time on the trip and, with only ten days left before we fly home, had limited flexibility to throw in the towel and move on. We’ve looked into every possible activity to do, but have come up short. We googled “bored in Hue” and found a lot of posts from people complaining about being bored, but none proposing any solutions. Campbell even asked one of his buddies who lives in Vietnam, but all he could offer was that we should “move south” because “Hue licks Jesse Ryder’s balls” – a hilarious (and accurate) insight, but not all that helpful for our predicament. The fact that it rained every day (not pouring rain, but that fine misty rain that’s just heavy enough to mess with your hair and your mood) was the icing on the cake.
Hue is in central Vietnam – it is a small town on the banks of the Perfume River. It’s popularity as a tourist attraction stems from its history as the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors and the capital of Vietnam from 1802 – 1945. The main attractions are the Citadel (which includes a variety of palaces and shrines, former emperor’s homes etc) and various Emperor Tombs dotted around the city and its surrounds. Aside from that, the town is quaint, but desperately short on things to keep an active traveller amused. We didn’t actually get to see any of Hue’s limited tourist attractions, because last night I was struck down with Dengue round two and we had to can the half day tour that we had booked for today. We also had to cancel our motorbike trip from Hue to Hoi An tomorrow, which we’re both gutted about. I wanted to push on, but Campbell (sensibly) made the call that I would be a danger to myself and others behind the wheel of a scooter all day. We’ve sussed out a private driver instead and are very much looking forward to getting to Hoi An and shaking off our Hue-induced funk.
On the plus side, I will give Hue a big tick for having lots of good cafes and restaurants. Hue cuisine is distinct from that in other parts of Vietnam, which results from its origins as “royal cuisine” fed to the Emperors. There are several unique Hue dishes, and Hue food is generally known for being slightly more refined than that found in other places around the country.
If we’re honest, a little bit of the problem is that we’re struggling to keep our head in the travelling game as the countdown for home ramps up. We’ve had moments of travel fatigue earlier in the trip but, at that stage, we were so far from home, with so many weeks to go on the trip, that giving into it really wasn’t an option. Now though, with only ten days to go, and being so close to home, it is hard not to let thoughts drift to home even though we’re determined to make the most of the last wee bit of our trip. Wandering around the town trying to take everything in, while discussing the best day to get the carpets cleaned at home, or wondering why the insurance company hasn’t responded yet, or when to reactive the car rego, has us feeling a bit like we’re in two places at once. Trying to ‘reactive’ the life we put on hold almost ten months ago has definitely brought with it a certain amount of admin.
Because this blog is such a downer, we thought we’d wrap it up with things we’re going to miss about Asia:
- The Bum Gun: The bum gun is effectively a hand-held bidet. It’s designed to help you clean your bits after using the loo, and cut down on the amount of dirty toilet paper to put in your bathroom rubbish bin (because paper can’t be flushed here). I was sceptical at first, but once I gave it a try (and mastered my technique – there’s obviously a few thing to take into account when using the bum gun – water pressure, aim etc, ) I was converted. Campbell was less convinced, but found it a very useful substitute for a toilet brush (you just want to keep your face well out of the way when attempting skiddy removal).
- Noodle Soup: Anytime, anyplace, anywhere. I love this stuff so much and will miss it the most of all the food we’ve tried when we get home.
- Breakfast Buffets: Most accommodation in Asia comes with breakfast included, which is quite different to hotels and motels at home. The breakfast buffets are outrageously good and really encourage you to make a total glut of yourself. I’m not sure I’d ever get sick of watching the chefs at the egg station make perfect omelettes time after time.
- Flexibility: SE Asia is an incredibly easy place to travel by the seat of your pants. It doesn’t matter where you want to go, you can seem to book a bus, minivan, flight, boat, or train at the very last-minute and at a fair price.
- “English” signs and menus: There’s a fair few laughs to be had at some of the signage at restaurants, train stations and out and about generally. One of my favourites would have to be the sign in the bathroom at a bus station, which
requested that, “at the completion of your mission” you put your “disgusting” paper in the bin. Product packaging also provides a few laughs – “Craven” cigarettes, really?!
- People: It’s true what they say about the people here – they are friendly, relaxed, good-humoured and almost excessively eager to please. Sure, there’s the odd moment of frustration when things get lost in translation, but that’s just as much our fault as it is theirs – we could’ve always learned the language before coming if we wanted to avoid mix-ups.
So, that’s the last few days. They’ve been testing and we’ve been glum. Still, tomorrow is a new day and we’re off to Hoi An where we’ve been before and know there is a fair bit more to keep us amused. First stop will be the tailors to get some new clothes for the return to work – I’ve decided to only wear my floral pjs to work on Fridays.