Hip Hip Hué, Vietnam

January 19, 2010 at 5:59 am 1 comment

Getting off the sleeper bus at 6am we were hit by a wave of hot, humid air. Exhausted after a cramped, sleepless night, we checked into the fabulous Backpacker’s Hostel and dragged ourselves to the citadel to see the Imperial City. Ponds packed tight with orange carp, magnificent looming gates, flaking yellow temples, loittering elephants and gleaming lacquer roofs were all lost on us as we trudged around, sweating and panting under the high sun, wanting nothing more than to curl up under a fan and sleep for a week.

Having learned our lesson we spent the rest of our trip taking it easy, kicking around the hostel and taking full advantage of happy hour. Unfortunately this often meant sampling the bar’s less popular spirits such as chilli, garlic and arse flavoured vodka. It was during one such chilli and arse fuelled night that we added some new characters to our tale – Simon, Xavier and Joe – three Aussies on a lad’s holiday in Vietnam and their friend Dave who, confusingly, was travelling with them and not with them at the same time. Little did we know that a harmless game of darts followed by some enthusiastic vomiting would totally change our run-of-the-mill trip to ‘Nam.

The next day we met the Aussies for breakfast and, united in our suffering, we decided to get some motorbikes out and spend the day honking our way around Hué. Unfortunately this didn’t quite work out as planned. Around 2km in Gary’s bike broke down and, oblivious as usual, the Aussies zipped off in a trail of dust. Despite enlisting the help of a friendly local who spent 30 minutes trying to retrieve our hapless friends we couldn’t locate them in the maze of streets so, grumbling and bickering, we decided to bike around on our own, agreeing that after 2 months alone together a little more quality time was exactly what we needed.

Fate apparently had other more sadistic ideas however as we soon tripped across the band of merry men on a beach around 20km outside of Hué where they were stretched out on plastic furniture, sipping beer and sharing prawns and fish with two local puppies. Evidently devastated by the loss of us, they had since found replacements in Adam, another Aussie, and Tony, a local guy who they had picked up on the street. Tony had told them that he was an english teacher and was keen for a chance to practice his english. When we got the 2 million dong bill for a sparse and mediocre lunch we were a little suspicious but since he had already taken the boys home with him to meet his family, we decided that he was just a decent guy who had made a genuine mistake in choosing a restaurant.

Still hungry after our millionaire’s lunch we hopped back on the bikes and followed Tony as he took us on the most incredible tour of the countryside past crumbling graveyards, bathing buffalo and colourful villages.

Eventually we pulled up for a photo opp next to some flooded paddy fields where a dozen or so labourers were hunched over their work in the evening light. Never content to be bystanders, the Aussies decided to muck in. Flinging off their flip flops and hiking up their boardies, Joe, Simon and Xavier waded knee-deep through the mud to lend a hand, much to the suprise of the workers. Why would these rich westerners want to parttake in backbreaking work when they could be sipping tea over a bowl of pho or lounging in a hammock on the beach? Eventually the hilarity of the situation hit home though and they started to laugh, becoming hysterical when Xavier ran around screaming after finding a leech on his leg.

After destroying a handful of rice plants and laughing ourselves silly we started our highspeed journey home, pausing only to let a farmer pass with his 300-strong herd of ducks. Thankfully we arrived back in the hostel in time for happy hour and, totally elated after our day’s adventures, we raved about how wonderful it would be to do the same thing every day. Evidently pretty drunk at this stage I suggested that we should do it every day, that we should buy bikes and make our own way to Ho Chi Minh together. Having already downed 10 beers or so, the boys all agreed enthusiastically and we managed to comandeer one of the staff members to bring us bike shopping the following day.

The next morning we woke up severely hungover and a feeling little more realistic about our chances of riding 1200km on Vietnamese bikes. Pride being what it is though, no-one wanted to be the one to say “This is a stupid idea – we don’t have licenses or insurance or even a map.” So for 4.5 million dong each we bought some questionable secondhand motorbikes and our fate was sealed. Over the next two horrifically fun, painfully wonderful weeks, instead of lazing on beaches and bartering for steaming bowls of pho we would tackle monsoons in short sleeves, heave broken bikes up 1500m mountains, be absolutely sizzled by a relentless sun and spend entire hours searching for anything edible in small villages – and all because no-one wanted to be the first to say those three dreaded words – “This is stupid.”

*Note: We found out later that Tony had scammed us and many other backpackers like us. Considering all the fun we had during our tour though, and the fact that we spent our lunch hour drinking Huda beer and eating fish on a beach, it’s a scam I’d definately recommend to a friend.

More pictures from Hué are available in the gallery


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

Ninh Binh, Tam Coc and Hua Lu, Northern Vietnam So it begins, Hoi An, Vietnam

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. adam styles  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    nice work guys. thanx for my mention and pic. hahahah


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