It was an early start for the bus ride from Hoi An to Hue (pronounced Hoo aye). On road we stopped to see the neat dragon bridge in Da Nang, and visited a marble factory where Hugh came close to buying a huge, white Smiling Buddha for $5000US including shipping! He couldn’t figure out how he would get it in his backyard, so had to decline the pushy salesperson who was very anxious to make a deal! Luckily……!
After checking in to our hotel in Hue, it was out and over for a walking tour of the ancient citadel from the time Hue was an Imperial City. It was so hot I was on the verge of losing the plot completely, so what I saw is a bit of a blur. I know there was a gate reserved only for the Emperor, and there was accommodation for the Emperor’s concubines, called Minor Wives, and there was a house for the Emperor’s mother, the Mother Queen, who couldn’t be called a queen until she had died because that would afford her too much status and power. But that’s about all. I was so glad to get back to the hotel and shower.
But the evening was such fun. We had an hour long pedal-rickshaw ride through the city, another Vietnam mode of transportation experience in Vietnam. The rickshaw drivers just calmly pedalled along and let the whizzing mass of motorcycles, buses and cars just sort themselves out around them. It even started to thunder and lightning and big drops of rain began to fall which wasn’t too bad at the start because the driver pushed a carriage top up over my head. Eventually we had to stop though and I was given this grungy piece of plastic to put over my legs, other drivers snapped on the plastic sheet around the carriage top (I’m glad my guy didn’t do that), and off we went again across the river to the outdoor food market. Past baskets of passion fruit, and pineapples, and jackfruit, veggies of every sort, and a table with four plucked chickens lying with their yellow feet and legs sticking straight up in the air. My rickshaw came so close to them my arm was almost scratched by their claws. Through busy neighbourhoods where families sat eating supper at a table outside with their motorbikes parked right next to the table, past brightly lit shops with the shopkeeper’s children playing out in front. It was a wonderful way to get to see the local life.
Finally we arrived at our special restaurant behind the citadel. It was in someone’s home, and what a home! It was filled with dynastic treasures and constructed of lovely dark wood, with beautiful gardens around the buildings. Our hostess welcomed us and explained the about the house and the menu to us, and then we were taken to the dining room. What a beautiful meal we had and with the most lovely presentation! We started with spring rolls on skewers stuck into a pineapple that had been hollowed out with a tea light inside and made to look like a chicken, with a carrot head, wings and tail. Then we had “turtle” rice and banana flower salad, and dessert was mung bean “fruit”. When we can post pictures, you’ll see how beautiful and creative these dishes were.