|Arrived in Hue by bus on December 28. The bus, which was to have taken around 3 hours, took 5. This was due to the many stops along the way. Not only did we pick up other travelers from a dozen or so hotels, but made (what seemed to us), unplanned stops all along the way. Essentially, the driver would open up the bus door and ask random people if they wanted a ride to make some extra $ on the side. We also made several stops to pick up packages and other cargo. The bus was packed to the gills by the time we arrived in Hue. In any case, we've spent a pleasant few days here despite some heavy rain.
Hue was the former capital under the Nguyen dynasty throughout the 19th century and until 1945, so there are some very interesting ruins around the city - including a Citadel, many elaborate tombs of former emperors, and the Tu Hieu Pagoda that is still a working school and living quarters for many monks and their students. To see most of these sights, we hired a few motorbike taxi drivers to take us outside of the city. Our drivers - Tai and, let's call him "Bob" since I can't remember his complicated name - were extremely friendly and surprisingly careful drivers.
On the topic of "moto" taxis and cyclos - we've been constantly approached walking down the streets being asked "where are you going?" "where are you from?" "you want a city tour?", etc. After much trial and error in attempting to respond "no thank you" politely, we adopted a common and magic phrase to respond to the numerous touts on the streets -"MAYBE LATER". This seems to leave everyone happy and we highly recommend trying this at home or away.
Food has been excellent here. In addition to the usual Pho
(noodle soup, traditionally eaten for breakfast), we've had great fish steamed in banana leaves and other local specialties in the various towns. Speaking of food, I need to go on record that when John gets sick (and believe me, he will), it will be well-earned. Those of you who know him, understand he's an adventurous eater. He likes to try new things. Great. But, he has really thrown all caution to the wind when it comes to avoiding things everyone knows are risky. This includes softening rice paper in water of questionable origin, eating fresh vegetables (again, washed in water from who knows where), drinking delicious fruit shakes that may be made from Mekong ice, etc, etc, etc. His rationale for this behavior is as follows: 1) I'm already taking Doxycycline for malaria so anything goes!, 2)I'm building up natural immunity, 3)Dipping fresh vegetables in "hot" soup, must kill anything bad, right?, 4) I haven't gotten sick yet, it must be okay... The amusing thing is, for a few hours after eating anything that even he realizes is questionable, he will voice some regret, display paranoid behavior and ensure Cipro is at the ready. Unfortunately, after not getting sick, he thinks it's license to take even further culinary risks. Ugh. I know we will both suffer for this eventually. At least I will be able to say "I told you so" - something I hope you'll echo - when it hits.