Day 15 – Friday 8th January – Hoi An to Hue

Back on the road today to travel the 120 km to Hue. Before leaving Hoi An, we stopped at a bakery to get baguettes for our lunch. Everything was freshly prepared while we waited.

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It was only 9 am and already the temperature and humidity are high. On the way out of Hoi An we saw a celebration taking place with Chinese dragons!

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You definitely get the impression that now is a good time to visit Vietnam. The restaurant that we ate at yesterday lunchtime face a bit of history about Hoi An. In 1992 the were just 8 hotel rooms in the city, with two shared bathrooms and only a handful of western tourists in the city at any one time. Now, there are thousands of tourists in Hoi An, and plenty more building going on.

Just outside of the city, between Hoi An and Da Nang, 12km away, there is a maybe development with new hotels and a golf course being built. Phuong told us that in the near future there will be 50,000 5 star hotel rooms in this area!  This seems to match the development that we’re seeing everywhere in Vietnam and it’s bound to have an effect.

We stopped at the end of the long beach to take in the sights and sounds… And smells!  This stretch of sand is called China beach and it is where American soldiers travelled to for R&R during the war.

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This photo shows the view back along China beach and the next, the view where we stopped, which is still dominated by fishing boats and local people going about they’re daily business.

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On a hill jutting out into the sea at the end of the beach is a very tall marble statue of the lay Buddha.

After leaving Da Nang, we headed up on the old road through the Hai Van pass, 500m above sea level. The views at the pass were amazing and you can still see the bunkers from the various wars which have commanding views of the area!  We stopped for photos and a Vietnamese coffee.

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There is a tunnel now which provides a much quickest route north, if you’re in more of a rush! 

The other side of the pass we stopped for some photos of the bay. Phuong told us that 99% of people here are fishermen, and judging by the hawkers that surrounded the bus when we stopped, the other 1% are trying to sell maps. However, the views of the bay, and the tunnel emerging from the mountain were worth the hassle!

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After eating our packed lunch we arrived at Thien Tri, the tomb of the third king of Vietnam. His burial complex is just on there outskirts of Hue, although they still don’t know exactly where in the complex he is actually buried. Much of the complex is in ruin, and singer still shows the scars of the American war, including bullet holes.

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One of the temples has been restored and shows how the original complex would have looked…

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We returned to the bus and headed into Hue and checked in. Our room is on the 11th floor so gives panoramic views of the city.

As it was only 2 pm and we weren’t meeting until 6, we walked around the town and across the bridge to the market. Lots of very narrow corridors…

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When we got back to the hotel I went for a swim … Although the water was pretty cold… So I didn’t make out beyond a paddle. We then went for a drink in the 12th floor panoramic bar.

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At 6 we met up with the rest of the group for a rickshaw ride around the old citadel before arriving after an hour to a friend of Phuong’s house.

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Here we are a 5 course meal, including a soup, stew, salad and fish course. 

The rickshaw then took us back to the hotel where we had a night cap at the rooftop bar. 

Tomorrow is a motor bike ride and trip on the perfume river!

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