Hue was my least favourite place in Vietnam during my travels, but I think that would have been completely different had events played out differently during the day!
The plane trip to Hue was fine, security was quick and short, we were swiftly shuttled out to the plane (the plane next to us had engine propellors that looked like they belonged on a desk fan – glad that wasn’t our plane!), and I ended up having a whole row to myself! I didn’t even lie down, I certainly didn’t take advantage of that situation!
One of the guys from my hostel was on the same plane as me, so we took the shuttle straight form the airport (50,000 dong) in to Hue centre and sat for a coffee as we contemplated our next move. We ended booking a place relatively close to everything but it was too early to check in so they put our bags away so that we could explore Hue.
Getting around, or lack of it….
We decided to rent bikes so that we could see everything in one day (Hue is known for it´s vast amount of temples and pagodas). This was the beginning of our misfortune. It took a while for my new pal to be happy with the bike he was given, and after a few changes we were finally off to fill up petrol. After this, we went to pick up a few friends I had met during my Halong Bay tour. This was the beginning of our misfortune….
It soon became clear that, every time my friend sat on the back of my bike, the engine would cut out! We therefore had to figure out a way of revving the engine slightly, hand firmly on the brake, as he sat on the back of the bike and hoped it wouldn’t turn off! This wasn’t too much of a problem though, easy to get the hang of. We had got half way through a long road towards the Imperial City (Old City/Citadel), and I could just feel it. My tire was flat! I know that if you carry on driving with a flat tire, even for a short distance, it can cause havoc, and even cause you to come off your bike. I wasn’t going to take the risk, and stopped the bike to call the hotel**.
**The hotel used an external bike company, and I completely realise that everything that happened wasn’t the hotel´s fault!
The hotel said someone from the bike company would be with us in 5 minutes to see if they could fix it. After a while of insisting it couldn’t be fixed (unless they changed the tire on the side of the road!) they brought a bike I could swap with them.
It took about 50 minutes for someone to come (bearing in mind this is my ONLY day in Hue and I really didn’t want to waste it! My friends were standing around waiting too, because the didn’t want me to be left alone waiting as they explored!). When they arrived, they asked for money to get it fixed (they gave me a flat tired bike?! It was only 20,000 though, around 60p, so I gave in and gave them the money). They said it was in the contract that any repairs are the travellers responsibility…it would have been great to receive a contract, or even a verbal agreement that we would be responsible to fix their already broken bikes….!
She tried to swap my bike for hers, but I insisted we have a full tank of gas (hers was empty, and we had JUST filled ours up). So, she took us to a local mechanics (the whole way it seemed like she was trying to lose us, as she was weaving in and out of traffic, knowing 2 traveller bikes were trying to follow her!). Eventually, she siphoned the petrol from my old bike to new, and we finally got going again.
By this time it was around 2pm and we were really fed up. We set off to the citadel and….GUESS WHAT!!!! Slavo´s bike got a flat tire as we went over the bridge!!! At this point we were at the end of our tether. We called the hotel and they said someone would be there in 5 minutes. Last time they said this it was an hour, so we said we would find someone to fix it. There was no-one around to fix it, and we decided to walk to the old city and park up the bikes.
Old City/Citadel/Imperial City
This place was absolutely beautiful. Hue was originally the capital of Vietnam, and the Citadel was home to the King/powerful people of Vietnam. Many parts were worn down to ruins, and others stood in all their glory. We wondered through the Citadel, and visited the gardens – absolutely stunning. The entrance fee is 150,000, but I would certainly say it is worth it as the place is so big and there is so much to see.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to see anywhere else in Hue, as we had spent most of the days trying to sort the bikes. When we got back to the bikes, a handful of locals helped fix their bike for 50,000, and I popped back to the hotel to get showered and ready for dinner.
Dine like a local:
We originally walked through walking street, but decided to go somewhere a little less touristy for dinner. We headed to a market under the busy bridge, and ate dinner there! Literally sat underneath a bridge!!
In the morning, we were told we had to pay for the bike rent in full – 200,000 for 2 bikes. We´d spent 140,000 on petrol and 70,000 on repair! Personally, I felt filling the bikes with petrol and repairing their bikes should have been payment enough, but no matter how much I argued it, I only managed to get the price down by 80,000 between us. I certainly wouldn’t rent a bike through Homeland Hotel again, the company they use is unprofessional, providing tourists with broken bikes because they know we can’t notice flat tires during a quick inspection, thereafter it is too late. The only reason I agreed to the costs was I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. It was a real shame that all of this happened, as many of my friends have commented on how beautiful Hue was….shame I didn’t really see it!