The Road to Hue

Once again no transport problems. I had booked a taxi the day before and now turned up at the agency yards from the hotel. They shoved me in with another guy who had also booked the day before. So we had both paid for the same taxi. Hey ho. Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the lamppost.

Sadly for me, my fellow traveller was a bore. A military grade bore. Really. He was more boring than the most boring person in Boring Land on ‘lets be extra boring’ day.

Had I been here, had I been there? All the places,in fact that I had taken pains to avoid. He banged on and on. It was like listening to Andy Murray reading the phone book. Then with the facts and statistics. He had the lot committed to memory. The statisticians statistician. I was gonna ask him what the chances were of us sharing a car, but I feared he knew the answer, and that would have been another twenty minutes of my life I wouldn’t get back. Then he told me about some pseudo alternative lifestyle/therapy thing he was into. He had cured himself of asthma, carpel tunnel, depression and arthritis amongst other things. This philosophy cured everything. Obviously except pomposity…I was glad when he got out at T1 and I was bound for T2. If I’d have been on the same flight I couldn’t have gone.

No problems transiting and after a one hour flight I caught the bus to Hue. There’s only one stop. Hue. I let all the other passengers alight before me in order to thin the ranks of the wild horde of touts. Now there were only about eight left for me to deal with. Pie. After swerving the first three, the fourth one asked me where I was going
“The airport” I said “next bus”
“You just come from there” he said.
“I know, I know, I replied ” I left my my pencil in the coffee shop there, I have to return.”
” Buy more pencil” he understandably replied
” No. My pencil is very precious to me. I have to get it back. It’s just been re-sharpened”
Touts don’t like insanity. They fear it. Over the years I have perfected my impression of a lunatic. He backed off. They always do. Pie

No idea where I was, I dived into a coffee shop, downloaded Google maps and discovered I was eight minutes walk to the hotel. I did it in six, due to having longer legs than the average Vietnamese and also unlike the Vietnamese not continually updating my Facebook status as I walked.
Status: nearly there
Status: getting closer
Status; one more corner.

I am staying at The Serene Palace. Hmm. From the outside you would not mistake it for a palace. And on Doctor Tranquil’s scale of serenity looked about a two. Inside though was a different kettle of eggs. The serenity factor was ramped up to eleven. I was suddenly surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of staff. One took my passport, another gave me a map, another gave me a drink. Two bell boys grabbed my bag.
” Hey. Be careful with that” I said “it’s full of dirty tee shirts.

I went to explore the town.

Later that afternoon I met Darryl. A 60 plus years old Australian sex tourist who now lives in Cambodia. Everything I don’t like about this great region was embodied in the bold Darryl. His lurid tales illustrated the sordidness of the whole world of sex for money. He was also a walking disaster when it came to being ripped off. He had been robbed several times. Forced to pay some other dude’s massive bar tab. Been dumped in the countryside by an illegal taxi. Given cash to a builder to have his name on a school which didn’t get built. Yes, Darryl. There was definitely a village in Australia wondering what happened to their idiot. I told him I had a bridge for sale in New York City. I let it go, but I reckon I could have closed the deal. As soon as Darryl had a full glass I emptied mine and left.

Later in another bar I came across Steve from New York State. He was the opposite of Darryl. Very interesting and very well travelled. A retiree like myself, his trip was lasting 5 months. He came, he said, to get away from the weather. He was staying in Hue 29 days. Most people stay 2 or 3 days. I get it though. Might give it a try one day. We chatted and he put me on to a little bar not far away. Great atmosphere he said. A mainly young, Vietnamese crowd, good music and cool decor.
“Don’t show up with a bunch of Westerners” he warned me.

I could tell you the name of the bar. But then I’d have to kill you.

I had a great night there. All those young Vietnamese wanted to chat. Practicing their English I suppose. Their language skills ranged from almost fluent to ” Manchester United” I couldn’t get away from the place. Musta had about 15 beers. Now I know that sounds a lot, but, hey, I am a trained professional after all.

The following day I came across Darryl and Steve, sat separately together outside their hotel. I could see that Steve didn’t like Darryl at all. Steve had been a state trooper in the Highway Patrol so he had seen some stuff. Darryl on the other hand was just a hue

I made my way to the Citadel. The two big deals in Hue are the Citadel and the Tombs. The Citadel is right in the middle of the city. It’s a good day out. The tombs are in the countryside and you need transport, and a lot of time, but you can buy a ticket covering both at the Citadel ticket office. Which was where I was sat, drinking water. Two separate couples, one Spanish, one French, thought the tombs were inside the Citadel and were about to buy the more expensive ticket. I told the Spanish couple of their mistake.
” Muchas Gracias” they said
The French couple bought the wrong ticket. I like the Spanish.

I spent an hour in the museum close by, appropriately called ‘The Museum of History’ which would distinguish it from museums which are not about history. I read the rules before entering and handed my dynamite and poison in at the door as they were prohibited items. (No.4 Not bring in the dynamite, poison and weapon).IMG_0216

A mosquito bit me on the heel today. First one. He’ll be pissed for a week.


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