14.06.2007 - 16.06.2007 39 °C
Back in Hanoi, I spent the entire morning on the Internet and then treated myself to an one hour massage plus sauna which you had prior to the massage. Not that you really need a sauna in that heat, but it was part of it for Euro 4.50. Happy Days! She did want the whole amount I paid in the first place then as tip too, but I stood my ground and was advised by Alex to only give 10% which I did. Cheeky cow! After some shopping, more Internet and dinner I made my way to the train station for the next night train. This time the restaurant called the taxi and assured me that the meter wasn't messed with and it was all correct. I had to discover that the last meter taxi over-charged me 5 times, as he manipulated the meter. This one seemed to be honest but wanted a kiss instead.... Excuse me??? What is going on here?? Just get me out of here.
The Reunification Express I was taking to Hue is certainly not the same standard as the last night train. Whereas the other compartments where quite cosy, this is a bit more like cattle class but with beds. Was hoping that my luggage still be there the next morning. This seems to be more transport for the locals as there are hardly any tourists on the train, which is the nice thing. I was glad anyway that I found my compartment in all that chaos, as I really didn't expect that.
On my way to the train station I was just amazed by the Vietnam traffic again. There really seem to be no rules. No one ever gets fined for speeding, so everyone is literally in the race and the biggest one goes first. That's it for the rules. To cross the street you cannot wait until there is a free gap, as everyone disregards traffic lights and therefore there are no gaps, so you just have to take a deep breath be brave (or stupid....) and step out on the road. Move slowly and they will drive around yu and eventually manage to cross, but don't dare making any unexpected or hectic moves while you are surrounded by motorbikes and cars, as they might not be able to avoid you then.
Compared with Kathmandu it still seems quiet but they still have their own rules here all the motorbikes are just crazy and a bit scary too.
After another 10.5 hour journey on the Reunification Express I got to Hue. That they call it "Express" is slightly misleading as the train drives at an average speed of 41 km/h!!!! That's why it takes forever.... After having a few drinks with my dinner I at least managed to sleep well this time on the train. Unfortunately I had to discover there must have been some bugs on the last train, as I covered my feet with the blanket they provided and now my feet are covered in bites. They are not from mosquitos.... nice! Don't know whether I want to know what they are...
Hue seems even hotter, if that is actually possible. I was told it is between 38-40C! Unbelievable... Apart from that, besides the Citadel which is great there is not much to the city. The citadel makes you want to go back in time and have a sneak what the "Forbidden City" was like when they still had an emperor. My hotel is nice and it after all the night trains it feels good to have an actualy place/room to stay for a few nights. Booked myself on to a long day trip for the tunnels and the DMZ (Demilitarisation Zone) and a day trip on the Perfume River to see the tombs and a pagoda. For all that plus a bus ticket from Hue to Hoi An O only paid Euro 13.50, so quite happy about that. Everything seems to be cheaper here than in Hanoi..... my room is only $8 for with A/C, fridge and TV, so not bad at all. After some sightseeing and the Citadel, some Internet I had dinner at the Tropical Garden which is a fantastic restaurant and had some really good food.
Both my day trips were unfortunately a bit disappointing. The guide for the tunnels I again couldn't understand but had the most beautiful fingernails on his right hand. Really strange... It is to show that he isn't a farmer or labour worker. A lot have that here, but ususally just one one finger. His right hand was imaculate. Looked like a perfectly well manicured hand of a woman who just left the nail studio. Couldn't stop staring at it. Quite strange when you then looked up and saw him and his face.... just weird... He was also very much pro North Vietnam which was a bit much. It's also interesting that everyone calls it the American War and seems to forget and deny that South Vietnam was fighting along the Americans.
We have seen the bridge+river that separated North and South Vietnam, part of what used to be the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vinh Moc Tunnels.
The tunnels were quite impressive. It took them 20 months to build them and they lived in there for 6 years. Incredible.... In darkness with hardly any ventilation... They are bigger than I thought as I could move more or less standing up straight but to live in them must be dreadfull. There was a guy that was born in there with really bad effects from the herbids they sprayed. Mentally he wasn't with it and he also couldn't speak or hear.. No one knows what the effects are and how long and how devastating they were. They only started researching it recently, 30 years later....
They still have areas where up until now nothing grows. All tigers and elephants which they had a lot of have disappeared too. An Aussie girl on the trip told me that her father who was a soldier here too, is also affected by Agent Orange and even she has a chance that her child will get it. I really need to get some more info on the Ho Chi Minh Trail too... It took the Viet Cong 2-3 years to go from North to South and they all had to go alone and were not allowed to talk to each other so the Americans wouldn't pick up a signal. They quite often got lost, died of Malaria etc. They were certainly very determined and very tough, no wonder the Americans couldn't stand up to them.
Unfortunately I didn't get us much information as I would have like to.
A group of us went for dinner and some drinks afterwards. It was a nice but also very strange evening. Some people you meet are just weird....
The next day I went to the Perfume River trip, slightly hung over.... I have seen the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tu Duc Tomb and the Hon Chen Temple. I skipped the other 2 tombs as we had to pay extra to go in each time. No wonder the trip was so cheap. It was okay but nothing too special. In hinsight I could have skipped Hue and used the 3 days for Phu Quoc Island which I now probably won't have enough time for. Bugger....