These are two places that I haven't visited in quite a while-something like 3 or 4 years. And, Hue was where the overnight train led us.
Hue is one of Vietnam's ancient capitals serving as its imperial seat since the early 1800's. Here a citadel was built containing the Purple City-Vietnam's version of the Forbidden City. Also, the countryside surrounding the town is speckled with temples and mausoleums. The later of which either pays tribute to one of the emperors or serves as another's resting place. These, and taking a boat tour of the Perfume River, are the tourist attractions. When I was last here I signed up for the King's Mausoleum tour and found it rather enjoyable.
But this time I figured it would be more fun to get a map, rent motorbikes and tour these sites ourselves, with the opportunity to get lost and engage with the locals being the added bonus. Here is a little of that scenery. The highlight of which was one of the river crossings where the local ferry/boat, transported the lot of us and our motorbikes across the Perfume River. (The music is by Charlie Yoon.)
Hue 12/09 from Linh Nguyen on Vimeo.
The weather was perfect-nice and moderate during the day and warm at night. We spent most of our time off the motorbikes walking around the city down near the parks that line the riverbanks. As Joel and Jorge were fond of saying, "this place is so romantic!"
Equally romantic was Hai Van Pass, down above the city of Danang. A place that I've often referred to as the Big Sur of Vietnam. The Pass is, to quote Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, "a ribbon of perfection" winding its way above the hills overlooking the South China Sea.
At one time this was the only way to travel to the north from the south and vice versa, over the Truong Son Mountains, as I found on my first trip back in 1996. It was a treacherous journey for all tourist buses and semi-trucks alike because Vietnamese drivers are not known for their patience of standing in line, any line. Now they've built a 3 kilometer tunnel thru the mountain leaving the Hai Van Pass road nearly deserted but for a few tour buses, locals and adventure seekers like us. Check it out.
Hai Van Pass from Linh Nguyen on Vimeo.
We left Hoi An around 10:30 am after a night of drinking where Joel and Ric preceded to take over the bar of a local restaurant making drinks for everyone, including the other guests. 10:30 was a little late by my estimates but we braved on making it back to the outskirts of Hoi An as darkness fell.
This map shows our route thru Danang, a critical navigational tool if you were make the trip yourselves. We kind of weaved and bop our way thru the up-and-coming metropolis on the way out and found the much easier path on the return.
If you're traveling thru Vietnam and do make it down to the Central region, do visit Hue's monuments and do opt for a drive over Hai Van Pass, whether it be on a tour bus or rented motorbike.