Originally posted in November 2010 as part of our Southeast Asia adventure
We had read and heard many a time that the best way to travel around Vietnam was on a motorbike. Neither of us had the necessary license (they wouldn’t accept a car’s), so we decided to buy a 2 day tour from Hoi An to Hue, through the Ho Chi Minh trail.
It was already raining as we were leaving Hoi An, but the guys from Hue Riders came super prepared with special clothes. I was the one that was not wearing the best shoes: at this stage I only had flat sandals or flip-flops left. My poor runners had died on a monsoon day in Bangkok (read the post for further info)
We rode towards Danang with incredible winds and a serious amount of rain at this stage. On the bay, I decided to look towards the sea and, aside from seeing what seemed like 6 metre high waves, I saw a huge white figure in the horizon. I won’t lie to you, initially I thought I was hallucinating, so I decided to ask the guy that was riding my bike and he stopped so I could take pictures. It was a huge Buddha in the middle of the sea …Amazing !
We then went towards the marble mountains. This is another place that I will never be able to fully represent in words with the necessary detail and emotion. We walked up some stairs to a marble centre and we thought “mmm…ok” until a lady who was selling food told us that we followed the path to a beautiful cave. Knackered as we were and wet to our very core, but curious to what was expecting us, we decided to take her advice.
WOW… We were speechless. What looked like a simple cave from the outside turned out to be an enormously high chapel with a Buddha carved off the rock. The experience was truly special and I hope the pictures I took are representative enough.
After leaving the cave, we got back on the bike and rode up towards the top of one of the mountains, where I have no doubt the views are amazing… On a sunny day, that is. Despite that, it was a really cool spot to stop by, as we got to a local’s house, where they gave us a much-needed cup of tea and where 2 ladies tried to sell us bracelets. One of them kept on looking at me in the eye and saying “Spain”. I nodded and she proceeded to name each and every single player on the national soccer squad! Surely that deserved the purchase of 2 bracelets? At least to remember her by?
It was right there in the little house amidst the fog that we realised that the lady from the Hue Riders office had made the mistake of booking us on a 1 day trip only. To be honest, at this stage we did not mind due to the rain but later we realised we missed My Son, Vietnam’s mini Angkor Wat. Hey, what can you do…
We arrived to Hue at half four and we went to the hostel we had reserved for the following evening. Hue backpackers hostel is managed by 2 Australians that have done their fair share of travelling and, I must say, they’ve done a great job with the hotel. Not only is super well organised, but also they have a happy hour with free beer to encourage conversation between the guests and that’s how we met some very cool people who I will tell you about later.
We were in Hue for 3 days and it did not stop training for any of them. Not just rain, monsoon style rain. Despite that, we did manage to visit a couple of landmarks, such as the Citadel (major letdown as it was completely destroyed during the war) and 3 of the 7 emperor tombs in the vicinity. Hue used to be the capital of the “empire” and it’s where the emperors were buried. Each tomb is truly an amazing creation, with their “soldiers” (statues) at the front, their lakes, their opulence… Breathtaking
The best thing in Hue was the food and also the fact that we got to meet 3 great lads from Dublin, from the north side and close to where David is from and where we used to live. Domhnall, Ian and Fran were also “on tour” and on the way to Australia, where they are planning to live for a year.
Funny how we all ended up in the same hostel in Hanoi too… But I will tell you about that another day…
Until then, thank you for reading