Day 8 Hue 1st April 2004
We woke early with the train still rocking along. We passed through some lovely green countryside, at times quite close to the mountains. We went through a number of tunnels, some of which had caves with stalactites visible as we rumbled through!. We stopped at a few stations where people madly tried to sell fruits and food through the train windows and we crossed a number of lovely rivers where we could see lift nets used to catch shrimps.
Michelle and Liam had struggled through the night to use the pit toilet at the end of train, trying desperately not to slip and fall into the hole as the train rocked back and forth only to later find out that the other end of the train had a normal Western style toilet!
Breakfast was a choice of pork bun or BBQ beef instant noodles, which was quite tasty. The instant noodles were very spicy.
We arrived in Hue shortly after 10:30 and it was hot! We took a taxi to the Festival Hue Hotel, and settled into our room. We had a nice lunch at the hotel by the pool; crab and mushroom soup for Michelle and I, and Liam had French Fries with mayonnaise as he didn't like his vegetable soup; though we found it quite delicious.
Liam had a quick dip in the pool before we went for our boat trip on the Perfume River. The boats looked great all lined up at the side of the river, with a flock of ducklings swimming in between them. We met the lovely mother and daughter who were our captains and cooks.
The river cruise was beautiful. Heading up the river we could see people dredging sand and pebbles from the river bottom, their heavily laden boats barely above the water as they traveled back to drop off their load of sand at the shore to collect a hard earned 100,000VND per boat load.
We continued up river to Minh Mangs Mausoleum, which featured the most magnificent gardens and lakes. We walked through some beautiful temples and courtyards and could see the hillside in which Minh Mang is reported to be buried.
Water Buffalo were playing in the water as we returned to the boat and made our way to Thien Mu Pagoda. It was starting to get a little dark, and a light rain was falling as we had a quick look around the complex. Michelle was starting to feel a little seedy, an omen for things to come. The pagoda was very peaceful with the Buddhist monks all sitting down for their dinner.
Michelle was starting to feel worse, so We returned to the dock where Michelle caught a taxi back to the hotel. The boat returned to the middle of the river where it dropped anchor near the Hue Citadel and Liam and I sat down to the most delicious feast of fish, pork, beef, chips, water spinach and peanuts and rice. It was indescribably magnificent as the boat floated gently in the middle of the river with the lights of Hue as a backdrop.