The beautiful Elephant Springs
The beautiful Elephant Springs

Hue was a really cool city.  Everyone that you speak to is quick to say how little there is to do there – but we spent 3 nights and barely scratched the surface.  There are a couple of cool hostels in Hue, and after the experience on the bikes the first beers were right on the mark.  With the group our size we were split over 2 hostels but I would definitely stay at Hue Backpackers – where we spent our nights drinking and unwinding – seemed like a much more happening hostel – though ours was still quite pleasant.

 

Inside the Forbidden City
Inside the Forbidden City

The first morning I took the opportunity to buy some new thongs (flip flops as I am constantly reminded) however that day took a drastic turn for the different when I ended up touring the remarkable forbidden city of Vietnam, home to the Emperors.

Forbidden Garden
Forbidden Garden

I decided to take a tour by Siglo, while inefficient was a relaxing way to see the city.  The forbidden city was beautiful, the ancient Chinese influence over the architecture made this city a definite must see, inside the ancient town, and the walls of the citadel there were amazing courtyards and buildings, gardens all that were forbidden to the people who lived around the village during the time of the Emperor.

The view from inside the Forbidden City
The view from inside the Forbidden City

As we went around the old city my guide showed me a number of areas of the city that were damaged during the Vietnam War.  The city was a hotspot for fighting, with American bunkers scattered throughout, and the city of Hue, which even today is still a city with a large military presence today.

The walls surrounding the Forbidden City
The walls surrounding the Forbidden City

Something that I have found really fascinating during this trip is listening to the war history from “the other side”.  The Vietnamese people hold Ho Chi Minh in the highest regard, much as the west credit Churchill or Eisenhower with the success of World War 2.  But what is also remarkable is how these people, who have had their country nearly ripped apart during the war, with horrendous atrocities have been able to rebuild, and forgive the foreign invaders who fought many years ago.

Enjoying some street food in the middle of nowhere between Hue and Hoi An
Enjoying some street food in the middle of nowhere between Hue and Hoi An
Scootering around Hue
Scootering around Hue

After touring the city and the old town I jumped on a motorbike with a local tour guide to continue to see the city of Hue, we visited a number of other sites around Hue, including the tomb of the Emperor, and some of the amazing pagodas and temples around the city.

The second day we spent in Hue saw most of our group decide to buy motorbikes and continue the ride up to Hanoi along the Ho Chi Minh trail so another half day spent at the mechanics before we headed back down to the glorious Elephant Springs – a wonderful ride back down in sunlight (surprisingly with me leading the way – something I would not have believed if you had told me 6 days ago).

The Imperial Tomb outside Hue
The Imperial Tomb outside Hue
Entry to the Forbidden City
Entry to the Forbidden City

The elephant springs were beautiful, glorious and refreshing – after a long, very hot days riding south jumping in the refreshing pools at the elephant springs was a beautiful way to finish.  Unfortunately faffing around at the mechanics cost us the chance to visit the abandoned water park that boasts spectacular views, abandoned rides and crocodiles.

Sunsetting over the Perfume River
Sunsetting over the Perfume River

I also was able to put my usefulness with a pool cue to good use, becoming a hero for 2 minutes winning a round of shots from a local bar tender hardly something to flaunt too hard but nonetheless I appreciated that there were 10 of us drinking in the bar.

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