Saturday, October 17, 2009


After spending Friday morning in Hoi An, we took the bus to Hue. We rode through Danang, where we saw a couple of very large ships washed up on the beach, apparently the result of Typhoon Ketsana. The water level of the rivers is still quite high in this whole region. We made it to Hue, and to another very nice, quiet, and spotlessly clean hotel, the Amigo.

Saturday we went walking through the Citadel to the Imperial Enclosure, which was the monarchs' residence. We stopped along the way to see the Military Museum, which was closed, as looked at the tanks used by the US and their "puppet" forces. While we were there, we met some medical students, Ty and Ngan, from the local university and spoke with them for quite awhile. They invited us to meet them later for coffee , which we did (more on this in a minute). The Imperial Enclosure is basically a walled city within the Citadel walls that was built in the early 19th century. There were originally 148 buildings, and only about 20 of them survived the French and the American wars. What remains is impressive (Colin thinks being king wouldn't be too bad), and restoration/rebuilding is ongoing. The grounds with all the gardens and pools must have been breathtaking in their heyday; even now, they're beautiful. We also went to two pagodas, Bao Quoc and Dieu De, and to the central market (overwhelming, we didn't stay long).

Last evening we met Ngan and Ty and several of their friends, who took us to experience the local student hangouts, first a street cafe and then to a coffee shop on the Perfume River. We got to try che, or "sweet soup," which is a concoction of red beans, rice, sweet potato, banana, condensed milk, and what must be some kind of tapioca over ice. It sounds awful and looks as weird as it sounds, but it actually tasted GOOD! Colin and I sat around a table under an awning off the street at talked with these very genuine people, comparing Vietnamese and American life for about two and a half hours. They wanted to know about our holidays and asked us to sing, so we sang "God rest ye, merry gentlemen," and they sang a national song they have to sing every Monday at school. We talked about family life, school, the weather and seasons, our jobs, what US cities are like, and had an absolutely wonderful time. Thank you to Ty, Linh, Ngan, Thom, and Vanahn (from left to right in the photo), for making us feel so welcome!

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