It was a difficult decision to be in Hue for New Years the city was much bigger than we had originally thought but still there weren’t any fireworks or bands playing in an outside venue. The local Vietnamese all gather with their family and friends in a park fenced off on a lawned area along the Perfume River however not knowing any locals we decided to do something a little touristy but we are so glad we did as we decided to have a feast for a king.
To be honest we weren’t going to go to Hue. Our original plan had been to visit Hoi Han for a few days, relax on the river front and check out the old town. Unfortunately Hitomi couldn’t find a hotel over the Christmas/New Year period over the Internet. We began searching for a smaller town to escape the hectic pace of a major city like we had just experienced in Ho Chi Minh.
picture taken by Jepoirrier
While we were in Ho Chi Minh we had tried to get tickets to the water puppet show that is famous throughout Vietnam however we couldn’t manage to get tickets so when we were in Hue and we heard that they had the puppet show then we booked through our concierge to watch that night.
We were so glad that we did as we were the only foreigners in the audience unlike if we had gone in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. In Hue we were amongst the locals as the Vietnamese chatted amongst themselves as they waited for the forty minute performance to start. The water puppetry dating as far back as the 11th century originally started in the Red Delta the area consisting of eight provinces and the municipality of Hanoi. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other with the puppets.
Ha Bai Trung street stretches for two kilometres through the heart of the city, past shopping malls, high-rise office buildings through to the historical centre of the city past the war museum and Reunification Palace. We decided to get out of the taxi at the end of the street and walk back towards town.
It was quieter here, the shops set up for locals as exquisite colourful Ao Dai, local traditional dresses hang in the window capturing our attention. We walked along slowly as we didn’t have to fight with motorbikes over space for the footpath like you have to in the heart of town. Cafés, restaurants, Coffee shops were spotted along the streets we stopped at a cafe decked out in a colonial building for a quick bite to eat, stomach content we wandered off down the street. Traffic built up motorbikes streamed by, cars sputted along. An array of smells drifted through the air that we had never smelt before. This was Ho Chi Minh, an assault on our sensories.
By now we were only a couple of blocks from the old centre, walking along the street out front of a petrol station, casually chatting away about how to approach crossing the upcoming intersection when from behind a motorbike crept up behind us, we were oblivious to what was to happen.
We love our coffee, when we were in Bali we visited a coffee plantation and now that we are in Vietnam we were looking forward to enjoying a few cups of the country’s famous Vietnamese coffee.
Coffee was first introduced by the French in the 19th century and since then has been embraced by the locals becoming a large part of the Vietnamese culture. In fact Vietnam is the second leading producer of coffee in the world.
Crossing the road is supposed to be easy, isn’t it? When you were a child your mother would have first taught you to look right ,look left then look right again before crossing but basically you can throw that out the window when it comes to crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh City.
photo taken by Eustaquio Santimann
It is hard to imagine that Vietnam had been engulfed in war for over a century first fighting with the French when it was colonized in the mid 19th Century then to be occupied by the Japanese during World War II to then having to fight the French once more when the Vietnamese were wanting independence. America stepped in to try to prevent communism. Vietnam was finally at peace from April 1975 when two tankers rolled into town and crashed through the gates of what is now called Reunification Palace to end the war.