We continue up the coast to Hue, seat of the Nguyen dynasty until 1968. During the war, the Viet Cong marched into Hue and massacred thousands of people, mostly the educated class suspected of supporting the South. In order to reclaim the city, the American forces basically bombed and napalmed the shit out of everything. It is an often-quoted statement that they “Destroyed the city in order to save it.”
Much of the city is modern, including these two statues along the Perfume River.
C in front of the Citadel.
We take another overnight train to Ha Noi! This time with all four of us in our own little bunk room, where we all drank local rice wine and slept very well.
J dresses up to see the Vietnamese Water Puppet Theater! We learn tales of creation (the courtship between a bird and a dragon resulted in an egg which spawned the 100 different Vietnamese peoples), as well as fishing scenes, courtship rituals, fan dances, and Indian and Champagne traditional dances, all acted out with wooden puppets manipulated on sticks in a giant pool of water, set to traditional music played live. A form of entertainment developed during flood season in the rice fields.
Delicious Ha Noi BBQ. Grilled yourself at the table, and dipped in a sauce of salt, pepper, chili, and the juice of three lime-oranges, which I have not yet figured out the name of, but they’re everywhere here. (editor’s note: Calamansi!)
Day trip to Tam Coc! We got hung up on a bus for 4 hrs, but then rented bikes for the most glorious afternoon ever – bicycling tiny trails through rice paddies surrounded by beautiful jutting rock formations.
That time Martha fell into a rice paddy.
Next, Martha treats us all to a boat tour around Ha Long Bay! It is a UNESCO heritage site, as well as one of the “7 new natural wonders of the world,” and is beautiful. We kayak through lagoons, see monkeys with red bums, jump off the side of the boat to swim, hike up a lookout point, visit a cave actually titled “Amazing Cave”, and have an awesome time.
We say a tearful goodbye to Martha and she departs for Thailand, while Alex, J and I stay in Ha long Bay for a bit of hiking and rock climbing!
More photos, to come. . .
C and J