who ... moi?

a social butterfly: scared of much, but not of many. never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. not a fan of acronyms, snakes and angelina jolie. a HUGE fan of Fathead.

this blog is black for ENERGY-SAVING reasons.

thanks for your understanding.
if it's too dark, put your glasses on old one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

finding our hue

on the sixth of july we arrived in a small town called hue (pronounced "hway"). quite the opposite from hanoi's bustling streets and peddler-filled pavements, this town was more graceful, greener and calmer - a very welcome and much-needed "woo-sa" from the chaos we'd just left.

while Fathead doesn't rate hue as a favourite, it was an absolute hit with me.  much older and stooped in ancient history, the lush beauty and understated stature of the architecture just drew me in.

hue was the imperial capital of the nguyen dynasty, until  1945 (when it lost it's rule to a communist government, established in hanoi) and as a result exists as a enormous collection of monuments, palaces and a royal legacy lost through war and time. 

divided by a river, the small city thrives in modernity on the one bank, and tip-toes around an abandoned kingdom on the other.

on the day we arrived, we set out to tred the rich historical path that hue is famed for.  boasting several of unesco's world heritage sites, we simply had to see what all the fuss was about.  in hindsight - taking a few more moments to examine the map with care, however, would have been far more beneficial to our quest.

as a result, we crossed the river on the wrong footbridge, found the giant wall that protects the emperial citadel and turned right - spending the next hour walking in 45 degree heat attempting to find a way in.  the entrance, we were to discover a good 4km's later having walked the entire circumference, was actually just to the left of where we had begun.

inside the citadel, the ruined remains of a massive forbidden city - where only the highest of emperors, concubines and royalty were permitted to enter.  a few decades ago, trespassers like ourselves would have been put to death as a penalty. 

while there are clearly areas that are constantly being restored - the crumbling of the city makes this place a truly incredible one to be. 

it was fascinatingly enormous, with gardens and walkways that stretched whole suburbs.  the palaces and temples within the forbidden city hint at a time long since passed, where opulence and decadence reigned.

thoroughly exhausted from what must have been a total of 10km's on foot (the flip-flop fitness being tested to the max), we decided to catch a cyclo back across the river to the new (yet equally as charming) part of town.

Fathead (ever keen to practice his haggling skills) managed to bargain the cyclo down to 20,000 dong ($1) and on we hopped to enjoy a scenic cycle through the tree-lined streets.

it was our second ride on a cyclo, and as we perched in the front basket - the dear driver peddling away in the schvitzing heat - Fathead grinned, rather chuffed with himself for striking such a sweet deal, and we remarked how street-smart we were to have avoided being ripped off throughout our time in hanoi.

then we hopped off the cyclo, and Fathead, thrown somewhat by the new and foreign currency, happily handed over a 200,000 dong note (the equivalent of $20).

needless to say, i had the pleasure of enduring our river-side lunch with the uplifting company of one sulky-sue.

never before has so much been paid to one cyclo, for such a short distance.

that night, we strolled through the restaurant-lined streets and picked a beautiful little garden courtyard filled with tanks of tropical fish and faerie-lit trees.  the music was enchanting, as were the smells from the kitchen ... and in an attempt to cheer my Fatlip up i suggested we treat ourselves - and at 30,000 dong ($1,5) each why the hell not, right?!

"a seared tuna steak for me, and a chateaubraind for my wounded partner over here"

well i tell you, by the time mine arrived (on a piece of lettuce and a side plate) Fathead had all but devoured his three french fries and was about four minutes into chewing the first mouthful of his match-stick piece of rubber.  the "tuna"  "steak" was neither tuna nor steak - but rather the lopped-off tail-end of a far smaller common-variety bait fish (you know the kind you catch when you're actually trying to catch something you're willing to eat?) 

never before has so much been paid to one restaurant, for such a small meal.

map-reading fail.
money-handling fail.
food-envy fail.

it seemed we were losing our hue ...    *da-dum-dish*

but by that stage the giggles had set in, so a few tiger beers and another dinner at another restaurant - and all was well with the world.  we bar-hopped for a while, played some pool with the locals and then challenged eachother to a mamoth jenga championship which was so entertaining it had all the bar staff and a few of the lookers-on cheering around us.

i did not win, and as my penalty, was forced to speak in an australian accent for the remainder of the night.  at least half of us thought this was hilarious. no prizes for guessing which half.

the following day we trekked through the dong ba market ...

(the usual patchwork madness of strange-smelling fruits, wickerworks and knock-offs)

... where Fathead was cornered by a murder of vietnamese seamstresses, and forced to try on several pairs of shorts as they flapped and squawked about him.

truth be told, he did look a little distressed and i suppose i could have come to the rescue, but then who would have taken the photos?

dinner at a little place (called "ushi") on the backpackers strip restored our faith in 'nam food - and in a jovial spirit we returned to "why not? bar" for round two of the ultimate-extreme-jenga-off.

once again, i did not win - and this time was forced to stand on the street corner and sing "you've lost that loving feeling" to the mortified audience of fellow pavement sippers.

thankfully there are no photo's to prove this catastrophe ever took place.

unfortunately there is a video.

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