Trái Tim Phiền Muộn
Today was the official "Goodbye Hue" day... and I've never been so overjoyed to leave one place... and one hovel...
On a quick side note... in case all were patiently awaiting a lesson in proper articulation... Hue is NOT pronounced Hue as in too, blue, sue... wrong. Nor is it pronounced Huey as in Huey, Louie and Dewey. Also wrong. It's 'H-Way'... like 'huh-way' but faster, rolling it off the tongue... OK, I'm shit at explaining... Here's an insightful video that will school you on the proper pronunciation. Hang on to your seats... it's very impressive. You won't be disappointed. 5 star. In the morning, I packed up all my stuff... bugs and all... and was given permission to leave them in the halfway house lobby... so that I could explore the city briefly before my flight. From the hovel down to Hue's Perfume River, I made my way across the Phu Xuan bridge to the Imperial City. Getting there, I took a bit of a short cut through an adjacent parking lot that was full of tour buses. Nothing I love more than seeing piles of tour buses.
It was still fairly early though, so I figured that although the place was filling up, I might avoid the real afternoon rush by getting in now. No time to lose... over the little stone bridge across the moat... through the remarkable ruins of the Citadel, up to the lady at the ticket desk... and... wallet out... wallet open... nothing. I didn't have a dong on me. Back I go.
This time though, I browsed some of the stalls, sat down in a cafe for a coffee, ate the best pork Bahn Mi I've ever had.... took my time. The entire Imperial City was enclosed with tall stone walls and inside was a series of gated courtyards, gardens, pavilions and palaces. It reminded me of The Last Emperor. I was on my own, exploring the grounds, so much lacking the tour guide to give the usual history, stories, insight... etc. Read most of the information on the palace wall and then did a bit of my own research though...
"The entire complex was the seat of power until the imposition of the Fresh protectorate in the 1880's. Thereafter, it existed mostly to carry on symbolic traditions until the monarchy was ousted in 1945. Once acted, it suffered from neglect, termites, and inclement weather. Most destructive were man-made crises as evidenced in the bullet holes still visible from the military conflicts of the 20th century. The city was made a UNESCO site in 1993 and the buildings that still remain are being restored and preserved."
Seeing the word 'termites,' leads me to believe that perhaps my hotel was part of the Imperial Palace... in ruins... bugs... suffering from neglect...
Who'd a thunk?
I'm sure Hue was a lovely city and had I been in a more receptive frame of mind, I would have explored deeper in to everything it had to offer... but I didn't... I just didn't feel like it.
At all. At this time, Hue stood for heartache, hurt, anger, grief, confusion... you name it... and, I might add, through absolutely no fault of its own. I just wanted out. Hue represented everything that was falling apart inside of me and it provoked an almost a claustrophobic feeling. Does that make sense? I knew I'd be able to breath again once I was out.
... and I needed to escape & get my emotions in check if only for the sole reason of fixing my face... because I was starting to resemble a wrinkled, puffy, death hippo in the majority of my Selfies... and that wasn't the look I was going for.
I took a taxi to the airport and as we pulled up, I noticed that there was no one in the parking lot. A few vehicles scattered here and there... but majority of it lay fairly vacant. I said to the taxi driver, "Has there been a bomb scare?" and he nodded uncontrollable, the biggest grin on his face. It was like I'd nailed it... "YES! Bomb scare! Today!" ... but the truth was that he did not have a clue what I was rambling on about. He was just being agreeable. Met up with Michelle and Jesse - the Australian couple who were on my Marble Mountain / Monkey Mountain tour. We sat in the deserted airport cafe together until our flight was called. The one good thing about a predominately idle airport with one flight departing... there's a fairly good chance that they won't lose my luggage. Shit... jinx.
Should NOT have said that.
It was all fine though... just as I'd predicted.
I passed out in the plane. Slept the entire way. Astonishing actually... but fully believable when you eliminate the annoyance of someone stealing your seat or fanning themselves... no one was reclining their chair in to my face... no one was coughing up phlegm and no babies were screaming uncontrollably. It was just a simple, uneventful flight of much needed slumber.
Once in Hanoi, my hotel shuttle was awaiting my arrival - "Joanna McBride." I immediately asked the driver if it would be possible for Michelle and Jesse to jump in my 'luxury 4-passenger' vehicle and hitch a ride in to the city, as they hadn't yet arranged any transportation. His English was non-existent, so we resorted to Google Translate... which also had it's trials and tribulations. In my attempt to translate, I had asked if Michelle and Jesse could get a ride in the taxi. What I should have written instead of 'taxi,' was 'car'.... and in doing so, I probably would have eliminated much confusion. As per the norm lately, it was raining... but stopped as soon as we reached our destination. Just in time for city exploration! My hotel, Classic Hotel, was nestled right in the heart of the Old Quarter, so it was a perfect location to start from.
I LOVE my new hotel.
It's Vancouver's historic Sylvia's meets Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's impeccably clean and I haven't found a bug yet. I actually took all of my clothes out of my pack and hung them up in a feeble attempt to fumigate. Pack went out on the balcony for the evening. Enormous bonus is that the shower is 100% separate from the toilet... and not the all-in-one-buffet I had to suffer previously. They've provided more than one towel should I need one for my body, my face or the floor. The furniture is all made out of a thick, dark mahogany - bed, dresser, side tables, wardrobe, desk... it's stunning. The thread count on the sheets is over 2 and the bed is draped with a weighted, down, comforting white duvet. I love the feeling rich while being on a serious budget. This place was $35 per night... Canadian. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a lovely bottle of Vang Dalat... (funny that... not such a prestigious hotel after all!) AND a mini bar. Bonus points! Bonus points! Yes... I LOVE my hotel...
Someone describe the Old Quarter of Hanoi as a rare sense of timelessness and they were correct. Exploring the busy narrow streets winding there way through the charming French colonial architecture is like taking a step back in time. The usual hustle and bustle of city life mixed in with tradition and real heart & soul. Along with the normal vendors, merchants, mopeds, fruits & veggies, massage parlours... there were also plenty of hip cafes, bars, restaurants, bakeries, boutique shops and art galleries. The Hanoi street market only runs Friday though Sunday, so I took advantage of the final evening and headed there almost immediately after getting myself sorted in the hotel. There was the normal amount of typical Vietnamese souvenirs, but also a lot of modern day commodities. I bought a few things... but I have to start being careful as now both bags are full and heavy! My favourite part was the street food and I took full advantage. The picture on the left was the most delicious. Shrimp balls, crab cakes, pork gyoza, sausages, beef & veggie kebabs, sushi rolls, tempura yams... SO much
Pick, deep fry, add hot sauce and eat!
Exactly how I think life should be...