Monday 13th July
Our flight to Hue left at 11am and we were not being collected from our hotel until 8.30am so I headed out for one last wander around the Hoan Kiem Lake at 6.30am. The scene at that hour is a fascinating mix of people bustling off to work, motor bike, ‘cyclos’ and a vast exercise crowd ranging from the middle aged to elderly all doing their weird interpretation of ‘The Macarena’.
Our driver eventually collected us and we set off for the airport with a detour via our travel office to collect the modest refund for our aborted Junk cruise. We had the same whacky young kid driver who collected us on our first day in Hanoi, with the same whacky music blaring for the hour long trip. It was kind of a Vietnamese attempt at the Eurovision Song Contest with a repetitive style and a distressing beat. Add that to the traffic, his poor driving and incessant horn-honking and…we were all glad to see the airport looming across the rice paddies.
We arrived in to Hue at about noon and were pleased to see that weather here was sunny, although much more humid. Our hotel, La Residence, was a beautifully restored boutique hotel having been a Governor’s residence in a previous life. It is located on the Perfume River running through the main part of Hue and thus has spectacular views from most rooms, the restaurant and the pool area. Our room was nice and large and well able to accommodate us with our entire luggage. (Room 307) We ventured down to the restaurant for lunch before heading to the pool to cool off during the afternoon heat. Later on we walked in to the main small town, about 2km down the road and paid a visit to the hotel that I didn’t end up booking, The Imperial. We decided our hotel was a much better option although the bar on the 16th floor, where we had a drink, had spectacular views over the town and up and down the Perfume River. We wandered along the river a bit further and found a place to have dinner before heading back to the hotel for the obligatory Pool challenge between Mark and Tom.