Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In Hue

Last night, we went for a last dinner at the excellent Mango Rooms restaurant. We left by bus this morning. I think we all miss Hoi An, a mellow historic city that you could be happy spending a longer time in.

I would have posted from Hoi An this morning, but the place with internet access was across the street, and we had a very heavy monsoon rain in the morning. It cleared up later on, and has been nice since.

We drove to a still-soggy China Beach nearby. It is a pretty stretch of beach that was popular with the GIs. Took photos.

Then, to Marble Mountain. As you might guess, this is in a marble-rich area, with marble mines and carving places. We hiked up marble steps, then descended into a cave with a female Buddha ( " lady Buddha " ) and other Buddha altars and statues. It is a beautiful place that I am glad I got to see. Words will not do it justice. Took multiple photos.

Then the long drive to Hue. Hue is in the middle of the country. It was a two hour drive on the scary roads of Vietnam. People here are crazy drivers. They think nothing of trying to pass on a blind curve. Saw many near misses. Much of the drive was on Vietnam Road One, which goes from Saigon to Hanoi, much of it parallel to the single track railroad that runs the length of the country ( the " Unification Express " )

We had a nice lunch at a restaurant halfway. Many good restaurants and hotels here. I had shrimps in garlic, shells on, with rice. Tried Huda beer ( a combination of Hue, where it is brewed, and Denmark, the home of the brewer Carling, who makes it ). This can of beer was atrocious. They tell me it is good out of a bottle. Will see.

Went past Da Nang, the place where US Marines landed in 1965, when the war really ramped up.

Then to the Citadel. This is a massive structure, a series of buildings built in the early 1800s, and modeled after the Imperial City in Beijing. There was massive fighting there in 1968. The Viet Cong took it, and I think all of Hue, over. The Marines bombed major parts of the Citadel to get them out of there. It is sad to see much of this complex in ruins.

Now, checked in at the Guang Chiang Hotel in Hue. They say this city is known for spicy food. Good.

Tomorrow, a very full day of local touring. Then a late night flight to Hanoi, and then a check in at the Hilton. That would be the Hanoi Hiiton.


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