Monday, December 31, 2012

Biking Central Vietnam

Wake-up! We are in Hue!

 Ghetto overnight train from Ha Noi to Hue

Due to our late booking, we got stuck on the top of a 3 tiered bunk of a hard sleeper where we had to skillfully maneuver our way up onto our bed, and once there, we couldn't sit up. This train ride was NOT romantic at all. At least we had a bed. Oh what fond memories I have of the deluxe Chinese trains.

Hue in 5 hours. We didn't plan on stopping here, but we had sometime to kill before catching our next bus. So, we scarfed down a banh mi (sandwich) and headed out to explore. It was nice walking among the locals.

Local kids kicking some ball in the early morning

Imperial Palace at Hue, the old capital

Restored artwork

Admist the ruins.
Sadly the palace was destroyed by the French and the American War, but it was fascinating to see the ruins alongside of newly remodeled buildings. It was relatively deserted in the AM.

Hue was definitely a nice pit stop, but onward bound...
Sketchy bus to Hoi An

OK, that look is "what is up with this bus?" Yes, that is my travel towel I am laying on. I did not want to touch the seat. Between Jane and I, we have been on our fair share of buses in all parts of the world, but still this one took us by surprise. There was a row of 5 seats/beds behind me!

This was definitely the most brutal stretch of traveling in Vietnam. 12.5 hour ghetto train ride interspersed with 5 hours of sight-seeing followed by 4 hours of sketch bus. Keeping it real.

Hoi An
This quaint little town is the most touristed. Sure, it felt like we were in Epcot Center at times, but we actually enjoyed it. I think a huge part was because we got to hop on bikes and ride all over town and into the outskirts. We didn't care to see any of the sights, etc. so we really just meandered and of course ate. Oh yeah, and we got clothes made. Jane got a fabulous dress and two tanks and I got a dress and an awesome jacket.
 Narrow streets of Hoi An.
The town has French, Chinese and Japanese influences which show up in architecture and food. It was one of the few places not destroyed by war.

Coconut on the beach. 

We rode our bikes 6 km through rice fields pass resorts to this location. You're probably thinking, what more could you want? Well, about 15 degrees warmer, no wind and no trash on the beach would be nice. It's a shame that the land isn't better taken care of.

Hoi An waterfront

Ready to cook!
Fresh food at the market
One of the reasons why I loved the food so much was because there were so many fresh herbs. Also, every morning, they go to the market to use only fresh ingredients for that day.

Jane cooks "mother-in-law" soup

We took class at Morning Glory, which I highly recommend. Sure, it was cooking by numbers and all the difficult stuff was pre-prepared so you couldn't really screw up, but the food was so delicious! We made dumpling soup, spring rolls, bbq chicken, bun xeo (fried pancake goodness) and green mango salad. And we ate it all!

What to do with a free afternoon? Go for a ride!
Look! We didn't die!
I took this photo while riding on the back of my motor bike after releasing the death grip.

We hired motorbikes with drivers (yeah, the Thailand stint taught us that we are not skilled at driving this vehicle). My driver was proud of his new bike. He kept repeating "New. 10 days. 125 cc" Interpretation = I am going to go very fast. And he sure did. For $10, they took us out into the countryside to see ...

My Son Ruins

Sorry, am I ruining the picture again?

At first, we weren't going to see these ruins because we've seen many before including Angor Wat, the mother of all ruins. But, we decided it'd be fun to experience the countryside via motorbike. We actually really enjoyed the ruins in the jungle and the ride out on the motorbike was fantastic (once I learned to release the death grip). It's a totally different experience than being in a car. We saw lots of water buffalo and local towns.

Our last meal from Hoi An
Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) with secret sauce

This lady had some special secret sauce that made her banh mi tiers above others. For 20,000 dong ($1), we had to get this banh mi twice. Of course that meant having 2 dinners this last night, but that is not a problem at all. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Now, off to fly to Ho Chi Minh!

No comments: