I booked for the 8:00 am tour to MySon, so I woke up at 6:00 am, packed my stuff, left it in the hotel and I went for a walk in Hoian before the tour left. The target was the market , that in early morning was buzzing with activity, the women, all wearing the Vietnamese pointed hats were packing the fish market. I spend a lot of time there and I shot lots of video but it was hard because there were so many women there and so busy the market that they were bumping into me with baskets full of fish and shrimps. After a while I realized that is late and I had to rush to the hotel, where in the lobby I found the Italians, father and daughter, from the Nha Trang trip. It turned out that he, Leandro, knew Romania very well because he lived 4 years there. He knew far much more than me about the country and he was in places I never wanted to go. But he was there for business, apparently he was doing some exports. I did not ask him more but I may meet them again on the way. This is typical in travel when people follow the same itinerary. As a matter of fact, today I met Sarah, from Mekong/Cambridge, we rode in the same bus, and also a old lady from Wisconsin that I met before and two girls from Malaysia, one living in Australia and the other in Singapore, with whom I was in the broken bus the other night. So I talked with the Italians, Leandro and Medea, and had breakfast together and waited for the bus to bring me to MySon.
It started to rain, pretty serious at times, but it turned out that was a short rain and the weather became OK latter on. The bus came at about 8:30am and after a heartfelt goodbye to the Italians, I started to MySon. Myson was the religious center of the Champas, the population that occupied this central area of Vietnam between 2nd and the 15th century. They were pirates, mainly, and because of this unfriendly job they were in constant conflict with the Vietnamese and the Khmers, being assimilated latter on, in the 17th century, by the first. They built impressive monuments, tombs for their kings and MySon is their center, a center that lasted between 4th and the 13th century far longer than any of the other centers in SE Asia, Angkor, Ayuthaia, Bagan, Borobudur, etc with which they were on par. Angkor in comparison lasted only 300 years. Unfortunately, after great efforts were done by the French to restore the monuments, the area was a free range zone during the American war and many bombs were thrown here destroying most of the monuments. The trip was interesting and short, just one hour inside the monuments but enough for what is there. I expected much less than what I found and, no matter that there were many tour groups, I was able to see and walked unhindered by others. The rain stopped and the sun came out timidly. On the way back to Hoian I was pondering if to stay the afternoon the Hoian, that is charming but basically was not much else to see, or to go with a 2pm bus to Hue. I arrived in Hoian at 1:20pm and eventually I decided to move ahead and I booked for the 2:00pm bus.
The open ticket system works very well , especially in a country long and thin like Vietnam. Also, they arrange tours and trips like a science, and all the tours are arranged , or can be arranged in such a way to match the departure of the open buses. Also, there are more than one open bus system, and this should be checked because some of them are offering a much larger flexibility, schedule wise, with more than one bus a day. I returned to the hotel , got my backpack and left it in the bus office and to town, to get a receipt from the travel office for MySon and to visit a little more for the little time I had left. So I took several pictures on the river, and I went quickly to a folk museum and got back to the bus right before it was ready to leave, and I just been able to buy a pineapple and some water and peanuts. The road was beautiful, most of it being right on the coast from where you can see empty beautiful undeveloped beaches. We stopped at one of them Lo Cai, very beautiful in the shining sun, and this just after we crossed a 11km tunnel that I thought that will never end, like in the Durenmat story.
After about 5 hours we arrived in Hue, where the bus brought us in front of the hotel Thang Long and they invited us stay there probably getting a pretty hefty commission, this being a common scheme in Asia. But, it is between them so the travelers are not bothered. I got a room with a beautiful bathroom and AC for $10, I took a shower and went in the lobby where I bumped into the Malaysian girls. We decided to have dinner together in Xuang Trang cafeteria, famous because they posted a sign in the 90s saying ” It should be in Lonely Planet” and they got there eventually, so now they changed the sign to “Listed in Lonely Planet”. The girls told me a lot about Singapore, where people work a lot, 12-14 hours a day and Australia, where life is great and sunny. But the funny part was that we tried to find a restaurant, and we wanted to go to the river. Unfortunately, not knowing the city, we got in the wrong direction and the rain started heavy on us. We got drenched and we could not find a place to eat and after an intense walk, we realized in shock that we arrived in front of our hotel, exactly from where we started, so we ate in Xuang Trang that was great and I had fish cooked in a clay pot and flaming banana, something that was great. The rain stopped during dinner but now, the girls went to do some shopping and I write this blog and it’s pouring like in the movies or better say like in Asia monsoon time, but this is typical weather for Hue.