Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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To Hanoi Hoi An to Danang to Hue to Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, 20 March 2007 9:35pm

We got up at 3:30am to catch our car to Danang. The hotel desk had recommended a 4am car, but that turned out to be much earlier than we really needed, since the trip only takes 30min, especially with the light traffic before dawn. We got to the train station at least 45min before our train.

There was some confusion on the train. We couldn't figure out exactly which seats were ours. It wasn't clear if the numbers on the seats marked the seats themselves or the seats behind them (where you'd be looking at the number of your seat). We got bumped twice before we actually found the right seats. The second time, it was because our seats were occupied and we couldn't make that clear to the people in them, so we sat in the empty seats behind them. But the people whose seats we were sitting in showed up and insisted on getting their seats, so they called the conductor over, who reshuffled everyone.

The ride was amazingly beautiful. Emerald mountains, blue ocean, the occasional beach. Sadly, it wasn't possible to take pictures.

We arrived at Hue around 8am. It was raining lightly. We'd hoped to leave our luggage at the Vietnam Airlines office and catch their shuttle to the airport. Unfortunately, the office was closed from 11 to 1:30, and the shuttle left at 1, so we couldn't do both. Since we were supposed to check in at the airport by 1:40, it seemed like a bad idea to leave the luggage there. We reshuffled a few things, shouldered our full packs, and headed off to the Hue Citadel.

I thought the citadel was reasonably interesting. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more without a pack full of souvenirs. The light rain became heavy rain, with occasional hard downpours, which might have been nicely picturesque without all of that weight on my back.

We slogged through the rain until about 11, then decided to find some food and an internet cafe to pass the time until our flight. Lots of moto drivers tried to get us to ride their taxi bikes, but there was no way. Having seen how traffic works here, I'm not getting on one of those things even with a helmet in perfect weather. Helmetless? With luggage? In the rain? Crazy. We finally found a taxi, and rode over to a cafe on the other side of the Perfume River.

The flight was uneventful. An Airbus A321. Our checked bags were some of the last ones through. Our driver was waiting for us (well for "JASSICA", anyway), and after an hour of passing with horns and flashed brights, we got to our hotel.

We ate at a pizza place that seemed determined not to serve us. I'm pretty sure they gave one of our dishes to another table the first time we ordered it, and we saw them do the same a second time, but the second time the other table said it wasn't theirs and we were able to claim it. Their large pizzas are smaller than the smallest size at the place I order from back home. We had to order a second pizza after we finished the first.