A Travellerspoint blog

After Citadel

Day 05 (part 3)

semi-overcast

By the time I left the Citadel, the sky has become gloomy again. I decided that I was too lazy to walk to the train station, so I will just get my ticket on the spot tomorrow morning. I continued with the aimless wandering which I did so often in Hanoi. Stopped at a cafe for milkshake. Very nice! I am getting hungry again but the food in that cafe is pretty pricey. So I continued walking and saw...
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So I entered and ordered a bowl of...
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This is known as Bun Bo Hue, or Hue Beef bee-hoon, if you translate it literally into English. More ingredients and much much tastier than the pho I had in Hanoi. 20k Dong, considered pretty good value! Walked towards the wharf by the riverside to sit around and watch people.

Some street scenes of Hue:
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Parents waiting for their kids outside a school.

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Some youngsters.

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Bicycle repair.

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Boats by the river. Some are offering dinner on the cruise. I think must be quite expensive.

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Beyond the tourist town.

Walked back to the hotel around 6 p.m.+. The guy who checked me in wasn't around. After a few minutes of chicken and duck talk with the lady at the guesthouse, the man returned and he had me moved to the hotel next door. Whatever, as long as I get what was promised at the price that was agreed upon. So in the end I stayed at Hotel Bao Minh next door, which has a pretty decent room too. Took another shower and rested a while before going out for a walk and dinner.

Take a look at my USD 6 room!
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Posted by abellim 05:28 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

The Citadel

Day 05 (part 2)

sunny

As I walked towards the Citadel after lunch, I passed by the Military Museum, which was closed for noon break. Anyway that wasn't my intended destination, so I just took some pictures of the old military tanks. A cyclo driver started talking to me. In Vietnamese. So I told him I don't understand Vietnamese, I come from Malaysia. Upon hearing that, he started showing his 'guest book', where a satisfied passenger from Malaysia wrote positive comments about him. And he started to talk a lot, beginning from how beautiful Hue is to why his father gave him the name Hue. Basically he was just trying to show his friendliness and wanted me to book him for a ride. I have no intention of doing that, so I said bye and quickly left to prevent further false hopes.

Moments later I reached the Citadel, and went to buy the entrance ticket. Here, one of the most ridiculous thing happened right before my eyes. The ticket price was 55k Dong, so I paid 100k Dong, expecting change. The girl at counter asked if I have 5k Dong, so I looked into my wallet. At the same time the girl beside her who was busy texting on her mobile phone took the 100k Dong note and replaced it with a 10k Dong note on the desk. As I took out my 5k Dong, the girl gave me a look, pointing at the 10k Dong note and said '55k Dong', implying that I only paid 10k Dong just now. I simply said: "I gave 100k just now." And she just took the 5k Dong and gave me my 50k Dong change. How ridiculous can it be?! I wonder how much money they have cheated like this. Real ugly.

Back to the Citadel. The Citadel is actually the remains of the palace when Hue was capital of Vietnam, which was the era before French domination. Somewhat like the Forbidden City in China, but I have a feeling that one will be much more impressive.

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Flag tower opposite the Citadel

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Entrance to the Citadel

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Thai Hoa Palace, used for the king's official receptions and other important court ceremonies such as anniversaries and coronations.

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Giant emperor seal. Looks very chinese!

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This is where the Purple Forbidden City used to be, but the Americans dropped a few bombs and...

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Thai Binh Reading Room. Was it where the imperial tutors educate those little princes?

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Views of garden and pond behind the reading room

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Yes. This elephant is a real and living one. But don't ask me why is it there. I have no idea.

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A few of the many old gates around the area

Posted by abellim 06:01 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Beautiful Hue

Day 05

sunny

Overnight train is a funny thing. You get tired doing nothing. I woke up every couple of hours last night. Don't know why. Maybe the bed is too narrow, maybe the air-con is too cold, maybe it's too jerky, maybe... I don't know. But it sure is an experience. The family of the old lady whom I exchanged bed with were very nice folks. They treated me to buns, soya bean drink and Mentos.

The train arrived ten minutes late. By then I was feeling sick already... Sick of staying in the train for the past 12 hours. So happy to get out of the train for some fresh air. And I finally saw some really blue sky! The guy from the guesthouse which I booked a room in has already arrived, but first I went to the ticket counter to buy a ticket for tomorrow to Hoi An, but was told that advanced ticket can only be bought after 3 p.m. (Don't ask me how I understood what they said, just somehow I did). So I hopped on the motorbike and took a ride to the guesthouse. The guesthouse guy recommended that I take a motorbike trip to Hoi An which includes visits to certain places at USD25. I tried to lower the price but he did not budge. So forget it. (Which was a good thing too, considering I got so broke at the end of my trip.. Can't afford to spend!)

I checked-in, but the room he gave me wasn't the one I asked for. I asked for a USD6 room but he showed me to a USD8 room. He mentioned that the guests haven't checked out yet. So I asked him to move my luggage when the other room is ready. Meanwhile he say that I can use the bathroom to freshen up, which I did. I took a shower and passed on my pants for laundry. It is so dirty with all the mud and water spots due to the rain yesterday. Soon I was on the road. The riverside is pretty and quite breezy, not to mention the blue sky which I missed all the while in Hanoi!

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Trang Tien Bridge

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Perfume River

Crossed the bridge to look for food. Stopped by at a shop called Lac Thuan. Feeling very hungry, so I ordered banh khoai (omelette served with salad, wrap up to eat), sweet and sour spare ribs over white rice, and a mug of iced tea. Taste delicious, best food since I came to Vietnam. And all for a reasonable (in comparison to Hanoi) price of 37k Dong. And I am all filled up!

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Lac Thuan

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Banh Khoai

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Sweet and sour spare ribs over white rice

Posted by abellim 07:55 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Back in Hanoi

Day 04 (part 2)

After lunch, we waited till 12:45 p.m. to start our journey back to Hanoi. Another long ride back, with 30 minutes break at another souvenir shop. Finally reached Hanoi at 4:15 p.m. I asked to be dropped near the lake. Being cold and hungry, I quickly entered a shop and had some pho. Did I mention it is raining now? Due to the rain, most street-side stalls are closed and those that are still opened, are packed. Pho in shop is more expensive than those on the street, and no much tastier, I feel.

The rain has been reduced to a very slight drizzle, so I walked down the streets. Was hoping to find a bookstore that sells English books. But no! The stores that I come across sell only Vietnamese books, so I didn't manage to get any books.

Along the way I passed by many electronic shops, so I popped into a few to ask about the price of a 2GB SD card, as I only have 1GB and I don't think it will be enough. Well, actually I have a 4GB card, courtesy of Mr. Loke, but my camera is not sophisticated enough to recognise it. Anyway the price is just incredibly expensive, ranging from 320k Dong to double that price. Of course I did not buy any. Would be out of my mind to pay that much.

My train tonight is 11 p.m. It's only 5 p.m.+ now. And the drizzle has become a shower. And I couldn't find a bookshop. What should I do to kill time? I don't want to keep walking under the rain! Then I saw a five-storey building, with a "City View Restaurant" situated atop. I decided to go up and get a city view from the balcony seat. Ordered a cup of coffee and had some spring rolls.

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Made my way to the hotel after the rain stopped to get my luggage. And started walking towards the train station. I got lost! I was able to reach the train station on Sunday by walking on the railway tracks, but today I cannot as I have to pull along my luggage. The train station is located outside the scope of my map and I just lost my way. Eventually, somehow, I managed to reach the station. Good thing I wasn't in a rush! It's not even 8 p.m. yet, there are still many hours to go.

I went to the stall where I bought mineral water from on Sunday. Took a bottle and passed on 10k Dong. The lady said: "No", and showed me 15k Dong. I bought the same thing at the same place just 3 days ago at 10k Dong and now suddenly it's 50% more expensive. Obviously trying to lighten my wallet, I just put the bottle back, went to another stall, and got the same thing at 10k Dong.

Seems boring to just sit here and wait, so dragged my luggage out for a walk. Passed by an internet cafe, so went online to check some mail and register this travel blog. All for a very reasonable price of 3k Dong per hour. That is like 60 sen? And the internet speed there is surprisingly GOOD. Better than Streamyx I must say.

Went back to railway station after my internet session, and waited for the train. Feeling hungry, so went to Lotteria Hamburger next door for a chicken burger. Not really FAST food, because I waited quite a while for the burger. I think their burgers are made to order. And when they say chicken burger, it is really a whole piece of chicken rather than the usual chicken patty. All the while I thought this Lotteria Hamburger is a local brand, until someone told me it's from Korea. And just in case you are interested in knowing, there is NO McDonald's in Vietnam.

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Boarded the train at around 10:30 p.m. The bed itself is alright, but the height is so low! I can't even sit upright without bending down. I hope I can get a 4-berth compartment when I travel from Nha Trang to Saigon. The compartment I was in were all Vietnamese. An old lady was occupying the berth in level two. But she had difficulties moving down, so her family asked if I can switch berths with her, and they refunded me 45k Dong for the difference. I don't know whether that is the actual price difference or not, but it doesn't matter much. Doing good makes people feel good. Since I have difficulties sitting up, I better lie down and sleep.

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Not for claustrophobics!

Posted by abellim 04:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Still in Halong Bay

Day 04

overcast

Woke up at 5:30 a.m., hoping that the weather has improved and I can catch sunrise. But the sky has already brightened up! I can't imagine how early is sunrise in Vietnam! Anyway the sky was the same colour as yesterday, not very blue, so there is no sun to be seen. I brought my can of Heineken up the deck. Very windy and very cold! Went back to bed after my beer and woke up an hour later for breakfast.

From 8 a.m. onwards it's just lazing around doing nothing. Did some reading, some chit-chatting. I think the temperature now is less than 20 degrees Celsius and very very windy. So different from the first two days in Hanoi, which was so hot during the day.

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The deck.

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We returned to the wharf at 11 a.m.and went to the restaurant for "lunch". It's not even noon yet! This is why I dislike packaged tours, you don't even have control over when and what to eat! But then, Halong Bay is so difficult to venture on my own, so I cannot choose when there is no choice. Anyway that marks the end of my Halong Bay trip.

Conclusion: Halong Bay itself is beautiful, but the bad weather and exorbitant single person supplement made it a disappointment. It is a place best not to go alone, as it is not worth the extra money. Once in a lifetime here is good enough.

Posted by abellim 04:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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