Hue – pronounced ‘way’ – was the location of one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War. The walls of the old Royal Palace bare witness to the action and several buildings within were flattened by US bombing. It sits within the Citadel that is bordered by a high wall and moat. As we enter over one of the bridges we are approached by a cycle taxi offering a tour. It’s sweltering so we haggle a price of 200,000 VND (£6.30) then climb aboard. Our trip takes in watchtowers and temples that provide plenty of photo opportunities. The driver offers to return us to our guesthouse but we’re not done for today and climb out at the next corner. Turns out the price is 200,000 VND (£6.30) each! We compromise at 300,000 VND (£9.46) for both.
The next day we take a dragon boat up and down the river before being dropped off near the Royal Palace. As we walk around we take plenty of photos but most are spoilt by another visitor walking into the shot. Carole wins photo of the day when the other visitor happens to be a monk.
Hue has plenty to choose from when it comes to food and drink – great street food, great bars and restaurants. For our last night we take a table on the balcony overlooking the street. While we eat we’re watching a street vendor selling eggs but we’re too far away to see in detail. Customers sit on the small plastic stools, crack their egg and drink out some of the contents, finishing off using a spoon. Puzzled, we guess as to how the egg has been cooked – can’t be hard boiled, can’t be soft. Our curiosity finds us hovering over a gentleman that’s just about to tuck in. He feels our gaze and turns to us and explains. “Duck inside, eight day old, lots of protein.” Inside each egg is an unhatched duckling big enough to fill the egg but not yet fully formed. It has been taken from the nest after the mother has sat on it for eight days then served up as a nutritious snack for a Friday night.
Our bus to Hoi An makes a couple of stops during the journey, most notably at the top of the Hai Van Pass and at Marble Mountain. The ancient town of Hoi An is present on many top 10 lists of tourist destinations and it’s clearly obvious why. The old town itself is very neat and tidy and boasts plenty of restaurants and quality tailors that will knock out a complete fitted wardrobe at very reasonable rates. Just the other side of the river you’ll find a bustling night life. If you’re not a party animal then try shopping – there’s a great market too!
On our second day we’re feeling brave and take advantage of the free cycle hire offered by our hotel. Brakes, it seems, are optional but none-the-less we make it safely to An Bang beach. Growing in confidence for the next day we cycle the scenic route.