After a less than inspiring stay in Da Nang – where the highlight were the tacos we had for dinner – we had a leisurely (gemächlich) morning before checking out and getting a taxi to the Big C shopping centre, a few minutes walk from Da Nang train station. As I waited outside, Tessa went shopping for a few supplies and toiletries. Some 25 minutes later(!), she emerged (auftauchen) carrying our goods including some new “X Men” shower gel for me. I thought it was a bit of a rogue move not to go for a recognised brand but I don’t mind a change so I wasn’t going to kick up much of a storm. However, the mystique of this new lotion was quickly washed away as the first time I used it I managed to render myself a cyclops by squirting some in my eye!
Our four-hour train to Hué departed at 14:15 and we were particularly excited (besonders gespannt) by this journey as we had read that it was the most picturesque (malerisch) part of the north-south Reunification Line which runs all the way along the coast from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Unfortunately, our seats were on the left-hand side of the train and the people on the right-hand side seemingly (scheinbar) had no interest in the beautiful coastal vistas as many had pulled their curtains (Vorhang) across the windows blocking our view! We managed to see some of the scenery from our seats and I also went and stood at a window between the carriages (Wagen) and got a few pictures. The reviews (Bewertung) certainly weren’t wrong – even the overcast (bewölkt) weather couldn’t ruin (ruinieren) the breathtaking (atemberaubend) views of the South China Sea crashing into the rugged (felsig) coastline (Küste). As we neared Hué, we were treated to further views of rice fields and small townships (Gemeinde).
On arriving at Hué train station, we decided to take a taxi for the 3km journey to our hotel. Metered taxis in Vietnam usually have the rate card (Gebühren) printed on the side of the doors and as we approached (annähern) a green taxi to take us on our way, we estimated (schätzen) that the journey should cost us no more than 50,000 dong. We gave him the address and said “meter please”, to which he replied (antworten) “200,000”. We couldn’t help but laugh (lachen). “Meter, meter”, we pressed. “No no, this is not taxi” came the reply (Antwort) from the driver sitting in his green car WITH TAXI WRITTEN ON THE SIDE. We enquired (nachfragen) as to why he didn’t seem to think he was driving a taxi when he was actually driving a green taxi with ‘TAXI’ written on it which also had a taxi rate card printed on the doors (which told us 14,000 dong per kilometre). He seemed to get rather offended (beleidigt) at this patently (offensichtlich) ridiculous (lächerlich) request (Anfrage/ Wunsch) and made it clear he wasn’t going to be doing any legit (echt) taxiing today.
Baffled (Verwirrt/perplex), we decided to start walking along the road, hoping to flag down (anhalten) a taxi later on. Miraculously (Unglaublicherweise/ wie durch ein Wunder), we achieved (erreichen/erzielen) this and he very helpfully turned on his meter and charged us the correct amount of 40,000 for the rest of our journey. Amazing!
Our accommodation for the next four nights was Charming Riverside Hotel; just a five minute walk from Le Loi and Pham Ngu Lao streets – the centre of the backpacking district. However, on arrival, we discovered that the hotel was neither charming nor riverside (Neither nor – weder noch). It was tucked down (versteckt) a side-alley (Nebengasse) about 30 metres (and three buildings) from the river. Adding to our less-than-stellar (nicht wirklich großartig) first impression (erster Eindruck) was the 40 minute wait in reception before being shown to our room. We were then told that “the guest who is in your room is ill (krank) so they are staying another night so we’ll put you in another room and you can change tomorrow”. This temporary (temporär/ vorübergehend) room turned out to be a twin (Zweibettzimmer) so we put our feet down and demanded (verlangen) another room and one that we wouldn’t be moved from. We were eventually given a spacious triple room with a view of the next-door wall but at least we wouldn’t be moving (umziehen).
Next morning, we were greeted (begrüßen) on the top-floor for breakfast by both a charming and friendly (freundlich) owner and a fantastic view of the Perfume River down into the city centre. So this was where the name came from! We eventually came to realise that the receptionist who checked us in was just a bit useless (nutzlos/ unbrauchbar) and the rest of the staff were very friendly and helpful and our overall stay at the hotel was a positive one.
That day, we had a little explore of the city centre then walked across the river to the Dong Ba market. This featured all the hustle and bustle (Betrieb und Hektik) of a local market including a truck (LKW) unloading (ausladen) hundreds of bananas bunches on stems (Stiele) which we then watched be carried (tragen) through the market – a far cry (wait entfernt von etw; bedeutet, dass etw sehr anders ist, als wir es gewohnt sind) from refrigerated (gekühlt) lorries (LKW) arriving at supermarket delivery area back home! After enjoying a banh mi baguette, we strolled (schlendern) back over the bridge and along the Perfume River promenade chatting about the impending (bevorstehend) arrival of my brother and what we’d planned to do with him.
Next day, Porky (George, my brother) was due to arrive about 16:00 on the same train from Da Nang. That gave us time to hire (mieten) a moped and visit some of the famous tombs (Grabstätten) on the outer edges (Außenbezirk) of the city.
Hué was previously the capital (Hauptstadt) of Vietnam between the early 19th and mid 20th centuries under the Nguyen emperors (Kaiser) and these rulers are honoured (geehrt) by seven Imperial Tombs. The most impressive of these is the Tomb of Minh Mang – the second emperor of Vietnam from 1820 until 1841. This tomb is actually a large 18 hectare estate with a series of lakes and gardens with a central axis (gekreuzt) pathway (Pfad) through three buildings to the main tomb building (which cannot be entered by the public). The buildings are excellent examples of classical Chinese architecture and the whole site has a very majestic (majestätisch) and peaceful (friedlich) feeling to it. The central pathway is constructed (aufgebaut) as the journey of Minh Mang’s death (Tod); arriving (ankommen) through the main gate (Tor), resting (ausruhen) in the pavilion along the way before resting at the tomb. His spirit (Geist) is then set free to enjoy and relax the surrounding gardens. Around the lake there are small out-buildings where Minh Mang can practice (ausüben) his favourite pursuits (Lieblingsbeschätigung) of fishing and bird watching.
We then travelled on to the Tomb of Khai Dinh who ruled for only nine years from 1916 until his death in 1925 aged just 40. Despite being much smaller than the other Imperial Tombs, the detail and decoration of the Tomb of Khai Dinh is very elaborate (aufwendig) and impressive (beeindruckend). The main entrance (Haupteingang) is a huge set of steps that look similar to the Pyramids of Giza which lead to a courtyard (Hof) outside the main tomb building. Inside, the walls are covered with ornate mosaics (verzierte Mosaik) made of broken ceramic pieces. The building has a European architectural feel to it which may be explained by the close relationship Khai Dinh shared with the French rulers of the time (which made him incredibly unpopular (unbeliebt) with the Vietnamese people).
Our next stop was the Tomb of Tu Duc which is a large 12 hectare complex with a lake, gardens and pavilions similar to the Tomb of Ming Mang. Unfortunately, we could only have a very quick look around before leaving for home as both our phones had died (Handybatterie war leer)! With Porky arriving in a little over an hour and with no map (Karte) to see how to get home, we were a little nervous (nervös)!
Somehow (Irgendwie), we managed to make our way back to the city and find our way back along the right streets to the hotel where I grabbed (schnappen) my power bank to charge my phone on the ten minute ride to the train station. We needn’t have worried because Porky’s train was 45 minutes late! And helpfully (hilfreich), Singapore Airlines had lost his bag so he only had a small backpack with him so we didn’t have to balance (balancieren) on a large holdall (Reisetasche) on the moped either!
He seemed to take it all in his stride (mit etw locker umgehen) and we headed out for a couple of drinks to catch up and unwind (entspannen). Those couple of drinks ended up being more than a couple and we finally rolled in (heimkommen) about 2am a bit worse for wear (leicht lädiert)!
Porky has been kind enough to write us a guest post to cover the first few days of his trip which will cover our remaining (verbleibend) two days in Hué and our next stop in Phong Nha. Watch this space (Man darf gespannt sein)!