Finally, with a lot of delay, I want to tell you more about my experiences in Vietnam. After we returned from Ninh Binh to Hanoi we headed to Danang by plane. We only stayed there one night and didn’t really get deeper into visiting the region more though it had a lovely beach and really cute cafés. However, our destination was Hue, Vietnam’s old capital. So the next day we took the train which again cost around 3 $ per person. The ride took as about 2,5 hours. While driving, we passed abandoned beaches and big rocks. It was really fascinating.
After we arrived at our hotel all we wanted was dinner. For the first time we experienced real vietnamese food, not the one that you would sell to tourists as vietnamese food, but really typical dishes. One dish we tried is called Banh Beo. We have never before seen anything like it and of course didn’t have a clue of how to eat it. It looked like some slimy mass with a cracker on top. The cracker turned out to be pieces of shrimp and the slimy mass was overcooked rice which you would eat with fish sauce. And though it looked really weird it almost tasted good 😉 Another thing we tried was Banh Xeo (rice pancakes). They were so good! Not in the slightest to be compared to western pancakes.
With full stomaches we continued to look for a bar, which wasn’t hard to find because there are so many and really great ones!
The next day we rented a motorbike and drove to the imperial city. The entrance fee was quite high (25$ for the citadel and two tombstones of old emperors) but absolutely worth it. It was such a gigantic piece of culture.
The imperial city used to be the walled fortress and palace of the Nguyen dynasty, who presented the emperors between 1802 and 1945. However, during the Vietnam War the citadel suffered from severe damages. Today, the imperial city is being rebuilt so you get to see huge pagodas, pavilions, traditional gates and impressive walls. But of course reconstruction is still in process so there is a lot left to your imagination which I personally really enjoyed. Afterwards we drove off to see the two graves of the emperors (Khai Dinh and Minh Mang). It was a pretty long drive but when we arrived we got to see real vietnamese glory. The graves were adorned so beautifully in so many different colors and with such an eye for details, it was really impressive.
The next morning we decided to go to Hoi An by motorbike. Luckily, everything seems to be possible in Vietnam because we decided very last minute to go on our own and of course we had our huge backpack. But the hotel staff was really helpful and they brought it to Hoi An for us for only 2$ and the motorbike was only 25$ for a one way tour. Usually you need around 3 hours by bus for 140 km to Hoi An but of course we needed some more time. Also because we really enjoyed the look we had on the ocean, it was fantastic! My back however hurt like crazy and also driving the bike in the ‘real world’ and not in some lonely village is a totally different pair of shoes. Sometimes I was really scared! Additionally, I forgot to put on sunscreen on my legs which at the end of the day were really burnt.
In the evening we arrived in Hoi An. Hoi An is the tailor city in Vietnam. If you want something tailored, this is the place to be. Of course I also had something in mind. I got two coats and a pair of culottes and I am totally happy about the result! If you don’t want anything tailored and just go shopping that’s also great, Hoi An has so many lovely shops. In the evening we went down the river and I was absolutely stunned by the view I was offered: there were chinese lanterns everywhere and candles flowing on the river. It was such a pretty picture. There was also a cute little market where you could by the prettiest accessorize.
I also have to tell you about our hotel. It was called Tra Que Riverside and it has only opened a few month ago. The rooms look stunning! There is a big balcony with palm trees in front of it and a very stylish coffee corner but the real highlight was the bathroom! There was a rainforest shower and a freestanding bath just in front of the huge window! Everything was out of real stone, even the sinks. I must admit I have never been in such a fancy hotel. It also had a really nice pool although I didn’t have to use it that often because the beach was really close and I always prefer the beach!
The next day, though it was raining like crazy, we rented a motorbike again and drove to the My Son Sanctuary. The rain didn’t exactly make it easier for us to reach our final destination and it took as around two hours to finally get to the sanctuary, including a scary passing the river in a small boat experience. But in the end we made it and I am so happy about it because My Son Sanctuary was probably one of my highlights during our trip. The sanctuary dates back to the 4th until the 13th century, constructed by the kings of Champa, owning its spiritual origins to the Hinduism. There used to be 71 temples, however, a lot of its architecture was destroyed during the Vietnam War. Today there are only 8 temples and you can only guess how enormous the political and religious capital of the Champa Kingdom must have been.