Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hue to Hanoi

My cooking lesson from the other day turned out to be a complete success, sooo much food yum yum yum! I can now make fresh and fried spring rolls, bon bu hue and their pork/prawn fried pancake. From a dietitians perspective, I was shuddering just slightly at their liberal use of the phrase "a little bit of oil" and figuring out ways to do the same thing at home with probably 20% of the oil! But it tastes good and I'm on holidays so i'm quite happy to eat whatever at the moment!!

As part of the cooking lesson we went to the markets, its crazy everything is shut from TET still! so strange, the food part is still open at least partially but all the clothes shops and markets are empty.

The change in weather is a bit depressing, think I'm starting to get a bit of a cold which is no good. It is drizzly and rainy and overcast and COLD!!! brrrr. good thing i brought a scarf and a jacket.

After our cooking lesson (a group of 5 from the hostel did it) and reaping the benefits of our cooking, I wandered around the citadel. Alot of it is run down and there has been extensive bombing in side alot of it, but the scale of it is huge. I mostly wandered around teh citadel inside the citadel as the outside citadel is just too big (and I was getting tired from the lack of sleep after the bus ride up) until it was starting to get dark and then headed back to the hostel. Because I've been on the verge of getting a cold I had 2 early nights while I was in Hue.

Yesterday I slept in and then decided that despite the rain i would go down to the river to catch a boat to see some of the royal tombs. Walking down the river i inquired about the price of the boat (and in doing so probably ended up insulting them unintentionaly because I didnt end up getting a boat), but didn't really feel like paying US$40 for a boat for a couple hours, plus the 550000dong entry fees for each tomb. So me being miss independent decided i would walk there. Not that I realy knew where I was going.. my map said a particular road went to the tombs so I started walking that way, and walking, and walking, and walking some more!! I pretty much ended up walking for 2 hours!!! I got some very vague directions along the way, but it was mostly guess-work on my behalf. The rain was constant and light the entire time so i was getting a bit damp, but it did start to get a bit heavier. Along the way I stopped at a couple of pagoda's (temples) for a quick look and wandered around a vietnamese cemetery for a while. I find cemetery's interesting, particularly the differences between those here and in the west.

So after my 2 hours of walking i got to another cross-road and having no idea which way to go there, accepted a lift on a scooter from a guy there who said it was close for 10,000dong. (75c). It was probably about another 1-2km from where i had arrived, uphill. Everyone passing me must have thought i was some crazy white girl walking around in the rain for no reason! I organised to get a ride back home to hue for 30,000dong for when I finished at the tomb.

Made it into Emperor Tu Duc's tomb, which was very beautiful and ornamental. There is huge moats and lakes with big fences around the individual tomb sites and particular buildings and temples. It was very slippery with moss and nearly face planted a few times! Alot of it was run down, some being reconstructed or held up by poles. My scooter ride home took all of 15 minutes!!! He obviously knew a short cut which was dramatically different to the 2 hour walk it took me to get there, but i did enjoy wandering around the countryside.

Right now I am in Hanoi at the backpackers here, having arrived at about 9am this morning after what was a very interesting bus ride. I'm not sure I slept at all. Apparently I must have at some point however because one of the Dutch couple I shared our 'beds' with said the bus hit something last night and i have no recollection of that.

So, my bus adventure started at 5pm last night when the sleeper bus was MEANT to come pick me up from the hotel. at 5.30 a bus (brand new extremely nice sleeper bus mind you) came and picked up the 2 other girls and then said they were full and drove off. okay. right. thanks! The hostel said to wait 5 minutes and another bus was coming. AFter about 20 minutes a taxi came and i had to get in, we drove around picked up the previously mentioned dutch couple. We then had to get out of the taxi at a random spot and then were told 'follow me follow me' by a guy on a scooter.. around the corner we go to the 'sleeper bus'. it wasn't the sleeper bus we were expecting. it was FILTHY!! and pretty much just a normal bus, slightly altered inside and very dodge looking.

I did manage to get a bed seat, but it was a very different experience from teh last sleeper bus I had taken. We probably had a maniac driver, so you learn to not bother watching the road and just ignore it. A group of young australians got on last and were put at teh front seats which were definitely not sleeper seats - they understandably were not impressed.

At about 6 oclock this morning we blew a tyre. The bus stopped for a bit, they got out poked around a bit and then kept going. We drove on the flat tyre for about 3 hours at least at a much slower rate than normal, because if we went too fast it would go thud thud thud thud..

But I got here safe in one piece and it's all going well. I'm in Hanoi for the day today and then head out to Halong Bay tomorrow for 3 days. Apparently the weather is meant to improve over the weekend though so we'll see. its currently 13 degrees..... brr

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