Christmas Eve, 2019 was spent in Hue, after the dragon boat ride along the Perfume River, we were treated to a Christmas Eve dinner courtesy of On the Go Tours, let’s just say that the thought was there!!
Adam, a fellow traveller, had gone out and bought us all Christmas hats to get us in the spirit of things, and there was a band of musicians to serenade us, the video below will give you an idea….
Food was an ok affair, served with the usual presentational flare….
Christmas Day was spent mainly on the bus to Hoi An but on the way we stopped of at the Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh, the penultimate Emperor of Vietnam ruling from 1916 – 1925. He was seen as a puppet of the French as he closely collaborated with the French Occupiers. He was a very reluctant King who spent most of his years in Paris and so was very unpopular in his own country, living the high life rather than ruling his country. He loved art and architecture and although he didn’t really want to be king, he built a tomb for himself with as much opulence as the treasury would allow. The tomb was paid for with increased taxes on the Vietnamese peasants.
In 1919 he made a decree that Vietnamese cease to use Chinese as official written language and was replaced by Romanised Vietnamese.
He only had one son, with his concubine but that is in question as studies state that he was homosexual and surrounded himself with eunuchs and was close to his male guard.
He was a sickly man and became a drug addict, he died of TB in 1925 aged 40.
The tomb was amazing with an exterior of blackened concrete but with a very colourful and flamboyant interior that really took me by surprise!
We then started one of many road trips in our bus, comfortable though it was, it did get rather tedious! It is only when you look at a map to track our journey do you see how huge Vietnam is, it’s enormous! No wonder our road trips were so long.
The sticky rice and happy stop in the title are phrases that our guide Kien used along our trip. When he said sticky rice, it meant stick close by and don’t wander off! The happy house was the toilet so a happy stop was a comfort stop along our long and windy road!
We took the Hoi Van Pass to Hoi An as the weather was clear and we could get good views before we descended into Danang. We drove across the demilitarised zone which is marked by the Ben Hai River and it acted as the buffer between North and South Vietnam. This was the location of some of the bloodiest battles but now most of the sites have been cleared and planted with rubber and coffee.
I had heard of Danang , known as China Beach, as it was the beach where the Americans landed in 1965 citing the need to fight against the communists.
Along the sea front are modern hotels and resort developments and it has turned into a nighttime, neon lit destination.
By the time we got to Hoi An, everyone was shattered, but we knew that we had 3 days here. The first thing I did was sort out some washing – by the kg here, brilliant service. Then…. I did nothing!!
Hoi An brought some of the best experiences and also some of the weirdest, my fellow travellers that might be reading this will know what is in store and will be inwardly chuckling so I will dedicate my next post solely to Hoi An…!!!!