I got dropped at Alien’s Homestay at about 2 pm. I was not exactly thrilled by this place. It was just one big room and the “dorms” were separated only by curtains. You couldn’t lock the door to the bathroom so when you had a shower and somebody went to the toilet they walked past you only separated by a curtain, but there were no hangers or anything inside the shower, so your towel and clothes were hanging were people passed and you had to get to them somehow while being naked. Not a big deal, but also not a thing that contributes to the feelgood factor. The seats in the common room – which was also just part of the one big room in which everything was – were hard and very uncomfortable, the WiFi was crap and additional to that no one of the staff spoke English. It was almost impossible to communicate. They didn’t want to see any form of ID, didn’t control the reservations, anybody could just walk in, so absolutely no security there as well. But well, it was cheap and just for two nights anyway! I ate something in the restaurant belonging to the place. It was also not the best food ever, but ok. Organized a few things online and since it was impossible to get any information at the hostel, I started walking around to find transportation to Phong Nha. In another hostel (Mintea Hostel) with very helpful personnel who were able to speak English I got some information and help with a broken zipper. After comparing a few prices I booked a bus for Sunday for 130000 Dong (~4.80€) with Brothers Dragon with Pick Up at the hostel. I had a really nice Phở Ga on the street for dinner
and got a free beer from some Vietnamese guys on the next table. They hardly spoke English but tried really hard to communicate with me. It was quite nice. Until one of them – who was very drunk – got way too close and I had to become very very clear that I don’t want that. Thank God my body language and tone were obviously not to be mistaken and the others helped a bit to keep him back. I anyway preferred to leave. I went to the Walking Street
– a rather touristy but nice part of town and had a drink with a German-US-couple at the Sky Bar until it started to storm and rain. It didn’t stop raining all night and was still raining the next morning. After a hot shower I enjoyed the included breakfast: Eggs with some kind of paté and baguette.
I was so hoping that the rain would stop since I had booked a tour with Let’s Hué for that day. Those tours are basically for free. Students from the University there are giving the tour in order to improve their English and get international contacts. You just pay the entry fees and transport. Of course you can also give a tip in the end. Just go on the homepage http://letshue.com and register for a tour or leave them a message and they will put you in contact with your personal guide. With him or her you can discuss what you want to see, how you will get around (motorbike, bus, rent a car,…) and when you want to meet or get picked up. Super easy and a great concept! We had agreed that Phong would pick me up at 8 am in front of my hostel and we pick up the scooter I had organized the day before together and then start our tour. Since it was raining so hard I didn’t feel very confident to drive on my own though and we ended up that he took me in the back anyway (it was an absolute exception since they are not allowed to take people with their own bikes! So this is not an option to ask for). We started our way to the Citadelle. There was also a bike race going on and a few streets were blocked, plus several streets were flooded and one road was blocked by a fallen tree due to the storm at night. It took us quite a while to get there and I was already soaked before we arrived. Phong did a great job, he was very knowledgeable and could explain a lot and also did it in a nice and interesting way!
The original plan was to also visit the abandoned waterpark and one or two of the great tombs in the area, but due to the really bad weather and it being dangerous to drive in this, we aborted that idea and just had some nice local food at Hanh Restaurant. We had Khoai Cake (rice cake with prawns) and Hai San Soup. Both were really yummy! The warm food felt so good since I was frozen through by then! He dropped me off, I gave him a tip and went inside. I had another hot shower to warm up and tried to dry my stuff at least a bit with the hair dryer. Apart from quickly going to a super market to organize some snacks for the bus ride the next day I didn’t leave the hostel anymore that day since it just didn’t stop to rain cats and dogs. I used this time to do administrative stuff, writing my blog, securing pictures, watching a movie,… The next morning it was still raining. My bus was supposed to go at 1:30 pm and I thought I might be able to do something before, but with this weater… Around 10:30 it finally stopped and I decided to take a Grab Bike to the Khai Dinh Tomb. After 5 minutes on the bike it started raining again. WTF! Thank God I took my poncho with me. After 20 minutes on the bike I visited yet another site in pouring rain. It was nice anyway, but no view, wet and cold.
The driver was waiting for me and took me back to the hostel. I went to the walking street to find some lunch. Then went back, checked out and got a fruit shake and waited for my pick up. At 2 pm there was still nobody there. Delay is quite normal in Asia, but since 2 pm was the time when the bus was supposed to leave and I haven’t even been picked up by the shuttle, I got a bit nervous. I tried to talk to one of the hostel staff and succeeded in letting them know my problem in showing them my ticket and she called the office of Brothers Dragon. She found out that they had forgotten me. They sent a guy with a motorbike to pick me and my luggage up and bring me to the bus. I just entered the bus when it drove off. I was quite lucky that they didn’t leave without me! The only free seat was in the very back of the bus with absolutely no room for the legs. But the whole row was free, so I just lay down. Was better for my concussioned tail bone anyway. And we drove out of this rainy place!
I think with nice weather Hué is quite a cute place with the right mixture of touristy parts and places were mainly locals are and a lot of history and interesting sites. Unfortunately Hué is known to have a lot of rain and I was especially unlucky that it was basically raining nonstop while I was there and not just a bit but very hard and also stormy.