Once again my sleep was rearranged by the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team. They played their quarterfinal game against Latvia (wait… Latvia? when did they become a hockey superpower?) at midnight local time.
I went downstairs to the common area and setup my netbook on a table. Crossing my fingers I went to the CBC Olympic live stream page and waited.
The stream was actually pretty good considering how spotty the wifi has been here in Vietnam. There were only a couple of times where my feed died and I had to reboot my internet connection.
It probably actually helped that the game was on in the wee hours when everybody else was asleep and using up the limited wifi bandwidth available.
I was damn tired by the end as Canada scored late and took the game (barely) from the Latvians. While I’m normally up til 4 or 6 in the morning in my real life, it’s quite the opposite when I’m travelling.
I finally went to bed at 3am and set my alarm for just 4 hours later as I was meeting the new friends I had met yesterday to go exploring the city together.
So, there I was with only 4 hours sleep walking downstairs to join Anna, Ryan, Kerry and Tiffany for breakfast.
The breakfast here actually topped the scrumptious breakfasts I got in Hanoi as not only was there an omelette station but also a couple of buffet trays with rice, noodles, crepes and bacon.s
Along with fresh fruit and bread it was a pretty amazing breakfast considering it was included in the $8 price tag for the room.
After breakfast the other 4 had to figure out their room situation for tonight as they had only booked for the one night.
As it turns out they weren’t the only ones…
I found out that everyone in the 6 bed dorm I was in last night was being transplanted to other rooms as they had to repair a water pipe in the room.
It took awhile to actually understand what was actually happening and their solution was to put me in the 10 bed dorm instead.
One thing with travelling is I kind of set my limit on dorms at 8 beds especially when there’s only one bathroom.
I had seen the 10 bed dorm earlier as that’s where Kerry and Ryan were being booked into and it was dingy and smelly.
So when the girl was trying to put me in there too I put up a bit of a fuss. Sometimes a fuss works. They ended up pulling in an extra mattress into a 4 bed room and putting all five of us in the same room.
No need for anyone to be in that icky 10 bed dorm! Yay!
Whew, that was an exhausting start to the day!
It was 10am by the time we finally headed out to explore the city of Hue.
Hue is known for their collection of tombs and temples and also their citadel located in the center of town.
Everything is spread several kilometers apart so you pretty much need to organize some sort of tour or driver to take you around.
We opted for the Easyrider option. You basically hire a motorcycle with a rider for the day for 200,000 dong ($10) and he takes you to wherever you want to go.
The hostel made the call and a few minutes later there were 5 motorbikes and riders waiting for us out front.
My rider was Mr. Ip – a kind old man probably in his 60’s. He handed me a helmet (well, a decorative head ornament really as I’m sure it wouldn’t help me if we wiped out) and off we went.
First we stopped at the rail station to buy our tickets for tomorrow. Anna and I were going back to Da Nang and then on to Hoi An while Ryan, Kerry and Tiffany were going all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City (about 30 hours away – ick!).
After that was all done we finally went out on the open road to explore Hue. It was drizzling most of the day (big shocker there) and it was a bit chilly but it was kind of the perfect weather for visiting tombs and temples.
Along the Huong River there are several tombs and temples. We visited 3 of them – Khai Dinh’s Tomb, Tu Duc’s Tomb and the Thien Mu Pagoda.
We visited Khai Dinh’s Tomb first. At one point, while the others went exploring I took some time to just stand there staring out into the distance to take it all in. Not just that very moment but the trip as a hole.
Sometimes you just need to stop and take it all in and realize how uniquely lucky I am to be able to be doing this.
In Tu Duc’s Tomb there was an option to dress as a king and sit on the throne. Of course this costs 60,000 dong ($3) but I was so doing this!
I paid another $1 to have makeup too and two women fawned over me dressing me and making me up.
And then I took my place on the throne…
It was so awesome! Not only was my little group snapping pics but complete strangers were also taking photos of me. So that’s what it feels like to be a movie star. Nice!
After my reign, I changed out of my regal attire but turned down the offer to wipe off my sinister fu man chu makeup.
I was gonna don the sinister look for awhile.
In fact after awhile I totally forgot I had the makeup on until people would stop, stare and giggle. Anna and Kerry would later wipe it all off for me as the selfies I was taking were all looking a little weird (and we know how much I love selfies…)
After the 2nd stop we had lunch in a little cafe/store where we had parked the bikes. My idea was for us to have Banh Mi sandwiches and buy one for each of our riders as well as a kind of tip.
I negotiated like crazy with the lady (seriously, that is exhausting to do that all the time) and talked her down from 40,000 dong ($2) to 20,000 dong ($1) per sandwich.
The riders initially turned down our offer as I think they were just too kind and polite but once we handed them the sandwiches, they graciously accepted.
I also had some of that yummy sugar cane juice which is basically pure sugar which explains why I love it so much.
Once lunch was done we headed over to the Thien Mu Pagoda.
On the way the riders stopped where there were a row of souvenir stores. Sneaky, sneaky. This I’ve found is common practice here in Southeast Asia and usually I’ll just look around and shake my head and go on my way.
I decided to buy a bracelet this time however just because I wanted to remember this day and experience with these 4 new people in my life.
The Thien Mu Pagoda was free to enter whereas the other places were 80,000 dong ($4). Again just really nice to see history and the beauty of the architecture around me.
Last stop was the Citadel is the middle of town. We bid our riders goodbye. I really enjoyed have Mr. Ip as my rider as he was so friendly.
He actually took time to talk about stuff we were whizzing by. Of course I didn’t really understand much of what he was saying but I certainly appreciated the effort.
The entry to the Citadel was 105,000 dong ($5) and I finally encountered one of the scams I had read about before leaving on my trip.
The old short change scam…
I paid with a 500,000 dong note and was given a stack of bills of different denominations.
I always make a point of counting out the change because I had heard about the infamous short changing and, lo and behold, I was 100,000 ($5) short!
I mentioned it and she just slyly gave me the missing note. So there you go – it does happen and you should always count your change!
We kind of quickly went through the Citadel as it was close to 4pm and most of were cold and hungry.
Of course we went in for a late lunch and after an hour we were ready to tackle the rest of the walk back to our hostel.
A few hours later we went for a dinner at some place around the corner which was, sadly, crap.
Such a shame but I’ve found that happens when you travel – a bunch of amazing meals balanced out by a bunch of crappy ones.
Just gotta roll with it…
After dinner we all settled in for the night. I was dead tired so after writing a blog I crashed around 10pm.
It was a long day but, oh, so worth it!