Saturday, October 27, 2007
A French Colonial hotel that felt like a palace welcomed us to Hue. Built in 1901, it is a truly beautiful hotel from a romantic era with a glittering lobby, huge rooms and service to match. Our room looked out over the Perfume River, so named because the headwaters of the river, far up in the mountains, grew fragrant from the abundance of fruit that would fall into its waters.
We pedaled along the lush country roads outside of Hue and along the banks of the Perfume River visiting temples, pagodas and people along the way. The biking ranged from peaceful to hair-raising and I can think of no better way to experience Vietnam. We visited many of the most important historical sites in and around Hue and found ourselves the subject of a surprising number of video cameras pointed out the windows of passing tourist buses. Why they found American tourists on bicycles to be so interesting we're not sure but we’re guessing it’s because we looked like we were having fun.
Riding a bicycle on the streets of Hue during rush hour is one of the most thrilling things I've ever done. Scooters, bikes and vehicles share the same roadway and there are a lot of all of them. As long as everyone is headed in the same direction everything is easy. The traffic, as they say, flows like water. If you watch it you will see that it’s true. You simply overtake on the left and avoid any sudden moves. As in snow skiing, you can’t worry about what’s happening behind you. You simply watch what’s happening in front of you. When you need to make a left turn or navigate an intersection, things can get a bit dicey but it somehow all works out. Usually.
As daylight began to fade and evening commuter traffic reached its height, we tucked in behind our support van so he could lead us back to our hotel via the slightly less congested back streets. It started to rain and darkness was upon us but we were having fun zipping past slower bikes and watching the rear passenger on every motorbike that passed nearly get whiplash as they turned to have a look at us. All was going well until I missed a quick right turn and our guide and I rode right by hubby and the van. I quickly corrected course and headed back down the small street to catch up with hubby and the van. As I rushed to catch up, focusing on the van's taillights in the dark, our guide didn’t realize I had made the correction, lost sight of me and went out looking for me. I’m sure the next few minutes on the dark, rainy back streets of Hue were far more frightening for our guide than for us – after all, I had my husband and the van with me. In the end the guide found us and we had a ride we will never forget.
Posted by R... at 5:06 AM