Vietnam Bike Tour: Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Day 5)

DAY: 05 (tourism in Hue day)
Distance: 0KM
Endpoint: Hue
Pho Consumed: 0
Today’s Author: Zach
Screenshot from 2014-07-01 10:27:59
Woke up early around 9:00 AM with the intention of doing some morning tourism and mid-afternoon/evening ride to the next town.  As usual though somehow it takes us a bit longer to get everything ready to go and out the door.
2014-05-17 10.35.52
We ended up downstairs talking to the front desk about tourism etc. sometime around 11.  (I said we weren’t so good at waking up…).  We had a checklist of things we needed to do though:
  • Horn stopped working on my bike during the rain yesterday, need to get that fixed
  • Both bikes need oil changes / chain lube
  • Pick up laundry from the night before
  • Find some way to do tourism in Hue
  • Find a place to store our bags while doing tourism.

We managed to figure most of these things out and were on the bikes heading towards a “Honda repair” place somewhere around 11:45.  Predictably, the place the hotel guided us didn’t exactly exist, but there are enough scooters in this country that tiny corner mechanics are fairly easy to find even without a map.  We pulled up to this tiny hole in the wall and attempted to explain the maintenance/repair work we wanted done.  I think we successfully communicated most of it and he started working.  I then called the actual owner of the bikes to let him know what we were doing to them, and to confirm with the mechanic that everything was in order. 2014-05-17 11.34.182014-05-17 11.34.09







20 minutes later, a swapped fuse and two quarts of oil, $13 and both bikes were good to go!  Funny how these bikes have a grand total of one fuse in the whole system!  My car, from 1985, has at least 50, and this motorcycle from 2013 has one!  Sorry, this blog is about our adventures in Vietnam, not pondering on the mechanics of cars/bikes. We got back to the hotel and decided we were overdue for some local style ‘Foreign’ food.  The hostel was able to graciously provide (these guys have proven that they will literally do *anything* to take our money).  We, with a bit of trepidation, ordered a pizza and a burger.  Both because we had been eating some pretty sketchy Vietnamese food for the past week and also because we were curious how well they did American cuisine.  I’ll spare you too many details:  they get a solid B.  Burger and pizza were both well within the range of acceptable, though of course far from spectacular. 2014-05-17 12.05.582014-05-17 11.57.29           We then got in our private car with driver AND tour guide, for just us.  (<mechanic> The car was a rebadged Chevy Equinox, no idea what the local name was.  Either way, very fancy for the local culture, and had AC!</mechanic>) We set off for our first destination: the Citadel and Forbidden City.    You can read about these locations online at Wikipedia if you want to know all the actual history, some of our photos are below as well.  Our personal experience was rather straightforward.  The most notable bits:

  • Our tour guide spoke four languages: English (ish), French, Italian and of course Vietnamese.
  • He is afraid of China (politically)
  • He’s a bit bitter at America for blowing up about 80% of the forbidden city in the Vietnam War (which they call somewhat unsurprisingly call the ‘American War’).
  • Even sacred destinations like the Tomb of an King are covered with these hyper tourist-focused shops selling trinkets and soda.  It really ruins the atmosphere in my opinion.  Maybe one shop at the entrance for cold water, but beyond that it’s a bit tacky.

Post touristing we decided that night riding again wasn’t in the cards, and we would instead wake up early the following morning and do some early morning riding.  So, we checked back into the hotel and moved all of our gear back up into the hotel room. After what seemed like an eterinty Felix finally made up his mind about where we would eat dinner.  Apparently cross referencing Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and personal recommendations from friend’s is a tedious process!  Sounds good to me 😉

The place turned out to be pretty fantastic.  The menu was massive and neither of us could make up our mind as to what to eat.  Thankfully the restaurant foresaw this problem and has a variety of “Menu Europeen” style items on the back — price fixed menus.  We chose a pair of the price fix menus ($15 each for 4 course meals) and relaxed.  The food arrived bit by bit and was all delicious.  I would describe it as Vietnamese style but with European influences.  Sadly our very refined waitress did not speak any French, though we found out on the way out that the proprietor was himself French. Landed back at the hotel around 9PM on a Saturday.  We’re heading to bed around 10PM — the lamest travelers you ever saw!  5:30AM wakeup, alarm set!

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