Madam Madam!

Our day in Hue started off with a trip to the mandarin cafe to plan out our transportation for the next few days and to grab some breakfast.  Since it has been raining in Vietnam since we got here we chose some warm and comforting pumpkin soup (which seems to be relatively common) and curried vegetables.  And of course we ordered coffee.  The coffee in Vietnam is very very strong and we love it.  Those of you who know me know I love my coffee relatively the consistency of sludge and thats what you get when you order coffee here.

Morning coffee
delicious creamy pumpkin soup
curried vegetables
After our Vietnam comfort food breakfast we headed out to see the forbidden purple city.  I have to say, as hot as it was in Bangkok, that is how wet it is in Vietnam.  Its been pretty chilly since we got here and at least drizzling non stop.  Apparently we just lucked out because as everyone has told us it is not usually wet and cold this time of year.

Crossing the river in our ponchos purchased in Bankok
A tree shrine in the middle of Hue city
Colorful ponchos on motorcycles
Street food.  Would have bought some if I had a stove to cook it with.
Hue city is a relatively modern vietnamese city but much more beautiful that Hanoi as far as I can tell.  And the most amazing part of it all is that right in the middle of the city are the ruins of the imperial complex.  You walk from a buzzing up to date cosmopolitan directly into 150 year old Vietnam.  How incredible is that?
The citadel

In our ponchos in the imperial city

What is left of Kien Trung Palace

The grounds

The gloom could not take away from the beauty of the ruins
Part of hue city, view from the bridge

After we toured the ruins we walked to Dong Ba Market, which is a myriad of stalls crammed as close together as possible with everything a resident of Hue might need for his house,car, motorcycle or personal use.  As we stepped through the stalls women yelled from all directions "Madam, madam, where you from?  You want shoe?  You want food?  Eat?".  It was quite overwhelming.  The market wasn't too large so after about 45 minutes of wandering we walked back to our hostel and waited for the car we hired to come take us to Hoi An.  We ended up hiring a car for the next two days because of the limited amount of time we have to see what we would like to see in Vietnam.  For $120 U.S. we have a private chauffeur who drove us from Hue to Hoi An today (3 hour drive) and who will drive us to the ruins of My Son tomorrow then back to the train station in Hue so we can catch an overnight sleeper train.  It's pretty amazing what a little extra cash will get you in Vietnam. 

Our most expensive hotel so far has been $20 a night ($10 a person).  We also flew business class on Vietnamese airlines from Hanoi to Hue last night.  Apparently $113 on Vietnamese air gets you into the business class lounge (which has a large free buffett of food and drinks, big comfy chairs and computers with speedy internet to use), an enormous seat in the front of the plane, a meal of fresh fruit and appetizers, and a private shuttle that takes you from the terminal to the plane.  I feel so priveleged and I am relishing because it certainly is not like this at home.

Allison and I grabbed some dinner in the charming little town of Hoi An this evening and we are now back at our hotel ready to head to sleep for another early start tomorrow.  We will be traveling more or less non stop for the next 4 days.  We go from My Son to Hue tomorrow, then Hue to Hanoi tomorrow night, then directly from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay, then back to Hanoi and back to Bangkok again on Friday.  Oy.  Wish us luck.  Much love.

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