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Hue is supposedly the old imperial capital of Vietnam and I hear there a lot of palaces and what not, but we weren’t here for such things.  We came to Hue for two reasons: 1) To eat the best food in Vietnam and 2) To rent motorcycles for the epic ride down to Hoi An.  Back in the day, the emperor demanded fifty different dishes per day so a lot of chefs from all over came to Hue to invent the best new dishes.  The legacy lives on and Hue is full of chefs to make a huge assortment of delicious foods, many of which can only be found there.  For lunch, we went to an unassuming little diner called Xuan Trang with our new Canadian friend Maegan, and for just a few dollars each, we got an awesome feast.  We had Goi hoa ghuoi (banana blossom salad with shrimp pork and fish sauce), banh hue (beo nam lot it ram), banh khoai (crepes filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and peanut sauce), and the best of all: bo nuong la lot (grilled beef wrapped in herbs).  Together they made up the best meal we had in Vietnam… and that’s saying a lot).  Then, for dinner we went to a restaurant in an old French colonial building called Les Jardins De La Carambole.  Ben from the Farmstay had told us that if we told them that he sent us, they would give each a complimentary glass of French wine.  It turned out to be true and the three of us spent the evening enjoying the old colonial vibe and drinking the first good wine that we had had in ages.

The next morning, we set off on the adventure that had prompted us to go to Hue in the first place.  After our motorcycles lessons in Hanoi, we felt confident enough to rent some bikes for what was supposed to be one of the best rides in the world.  Apparently the TV program Top Gear had done an episode on the ride from Hue to Hoi An and declared it to be paradise.  Even though we knew how to ride though, we both knew that we were far from being experts so we wanted to make as many safety precautions as possible.  We shopped around and found a reputable guide who would provide us with two well maintained bikes and proper fitting helmets.  We also wanted a guide to come with us, show us the route, and help us out in case we ran into any trouble.   And that’s how we met Bill.  Bill is a Vietnamese gentleman in his 50′s who fought with the US during the war.  He had a great sense of humor, tons of stories, and most importantly rode slowly and safely and kept us out of trouble.  We were a bit nervous when we first left the hotel and rode through the swarms of bikes to leave Hue, but despite, or maybe because of the huge number of motorcycle riders in Vietnam, everyone is actually extremely courteous.

Our first stop on the ride was a small fishing village were Bill knew a bunch of the children.  The ran up to greet us and we walked around for a bit, checking out the old fishing vessels.  Now that we had warmed up a bit, we headed into the hills to a place called Elephant Springs.  All along the way, Bill was pointing out and explaining significant sites from the war.  Elephant Springs was a natural water park built into the side of a mountain.  A series of pools and waterfalls runs for several kilometers up into the mountain, and many of them are covered with a slippery moss so you can slide from pool to pool.  There are also a lot of great rocks to jump in from.  In the blazing heat, it was incredibly refreshing.  Near each pool is a little bamboo hut, most of which were filled with Vietnamese families having a picnic or teenagers drinking beer.  In short, it was pretty much paradise.

After drying off, we jumped back on the bikes, rode to an old Buddhist temple in the hills (and learned that Bill used to be a monk) and the rode along the coast and enjoyed the beautiful views overlooking Da Nang.  We rode up through the mountains to Hai Van pass, the site of a famous battle from the war and enjoyed the unbelievable views back down to the coast.  This used to an outpost where the US soldiers set up base to shoot the North Vietnamese as they came up the jungle to the hill.  The hill was now covered with freshly blooming white flowers and it was kind of surreal to imagine all of the horrors that had happened there in the not to distant past.

Finally, in the late afternoon, we rode down the pass, through Da Nang to Hoi An.  We made a quick stop at Marble Mountain before arriving which is…a marble mountain where they try to sell you 5000 pound Buddha and dragon statues.  Mandy bought a bracelet.  Then we arrived at our hotel full of adrenaline from the ride and relieved to have made it in one piece.  We drank a few beers with Bill to celebrate the incredible day and then he took off back to Hue.

  • Hue-22
  • US Marines Had to Defend this Hill
  • Hue-20
  • Hue-19
  • Adam and Mandy Top Gear Style
  • Adam and Mandy Top Gear Style
  • Riding Near the Coast
  • Buddhist Temple in the Hills
  • Hue-14
  • Kid Eating French Bread at Elephant Springs
  • Elephant Springs
  • Elephant Springs
  • Kids at the Fishing Village
  • Adam and Bill
  • Les Jardins De La Carambole
  • Enjoying the Fine Wine At Les Jardins
  • Gelatinous Shrimp in a Leaf?
  • Goi hoa ghuoi
  • bo nuong la lot
  • Goi hoa ghuoi
  • banh khoai
  • Banh Hue

Posted: June 15, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Asia, Blog, Continents, Vietnam


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