Wednesday 23rd September
Hué is a beautiful city, a bit quieter traffic-wise than Hanoi, and full of history. We spent yesterday on an organised tour of tombs, mausoleums, pagodas and The Citadel. Bloody hell it was hot! In fact I suspect it might have been the hottest day ever recorded in the history of the world! Standing in the sun for more than two seconds at a time caused people to explode into flame, and the town was dotted with whisps of smoke where Westerners had spontaneously combusted. Fortunately for me, my sweating rate of 13 litres a second kept the flames at bay. We saw some amazing places, the resting places of Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). These Kings were incredibly privileged people. We learnt of one who had 500 wives and 700 concubines! Jesus! No wonder he died aged 40! He must have been drained of every drop of energy he had! He would choose up to 10 women EVERY night to join him in the royal chambers…..The history of Vietnam is fascinating, as they’ve constantly been ruled by one country or another – the Chinese, the French. The Americans tried, and failed (fortunately). It amuses me to think of the mighty USA being defeated by peasants and guerrillas in what they must have considered to be a tin pot country (albeit with the support of China and Russia…) I learnt an interesting fact yesterday – during the years of the Vietnam war the average number of Vietnamese killed in the war each year was 10,000. Now, in peacetime, 12,000 die a year in motorcycle accidents! That’s 30+ a day!!!! And I’m not surprised. I’m guessing that the Vietnam Highway Code consists of 1 sentence, “There are no rules”. But (despite the horrendous death rate) the traffic seems to flow well, and there’s rarely a traffic jam!
We visited a beautiful Buddhist temple, where we were able to touch the enormous bell, and the huge turtle, for luck. I’ve never seen touching a turtle’s head as lucky before…..
After the tour, beer was required, and so we slipped into our favourite bar. But not before I’d bought a Breitling watch! It’s a really good copy, and at £10 instead of £6000, I love it! Obviously it’ll stop working very very soon, but you never know. It looks identical in every way until you see on the back “Manufactured in Switchinterned”!
Cue a deluge of requests from back home for watches!
For some bizarre reason, Charlotte has lost any sense of direction since we’ve been in Vietnam. It’s as if she’s had her poles reversed. She seems to have the same navigational skills as Mark Thatcher.
Today we’ve been up early for our bus to Hoi An. We left the hotel at 7.15am, yet it was already 12,000 degrees. And this is autumn!!! Our bus journey is only 4hrs. These short journeys seem like nothing now, it’s hardly time to get settled in! But it’s a sleeper bus again, so I’m nicely chilled out in my tiny bed! The no. 36 will never be the same again! I’m writing this and listening to the album Kill City by Iggy Pop and James Williamson, as recommended by my brother. Wow! One of the best I’ve heard for a long time! Rush out and buy it instantly! The track Master Charge is worth it alone, lovely and mellow. It helps to read or write on the bus, as this stops you from looking out of the front window where you will see imminent death every few seconds, although I have touched the turtle’s head so hopefully fortune will smile on us…. We’re heading to a hotel with a swimming pool as it has become imperative to have some way of cooling!! And then tomorrow is a full days cycling tour!
Later – now arrived at the hotel, and for the third time in a row have been upgraded rooms! How very civilised! Beautiful pool too, so it’s a few hours of lounging before heading into town for some exploring!
The frightening news is that I’ve had contact from work asking me what my future intentions are??? One of the options they’ve given me is to extend my career break! Oooooh, so tempting!!!! They’ve also sent a 30 page form to fill out, that has to be returned by hand to them. Looks like they’ll have to wait a while then! I’ve not seen the form as its at my dad’s, but I suspect it’s full of loopholes that’ll see them refusing to take me back. No worries, that’d be one problem solved! However, we have a cunning plan………..
Wednesday 23rd September