The bus to Hue was blissfully uneventful. It was a quick, easy, painless 3 hours by bus and we were dropped in the town centre. We grabbed an overpriced cab that drove us about 7 minutes in the time we could've walked it, but he was pleasant enough so we didn't really care.
Now, we were slightly nervous checking into what would be our accommodation for the next two nights. The price per night for a private room with private bathroom was $9USD, which also include breakfast... amongst many other things we would find out.
Upon arrival they gave us yogurt... a touch odd, but I enjoyed it, and a free drink. We checked into our room which was large, big beds, and get this... A free mini bar packed with beer, cokes, waters, teas, etc. Not bad at all, and then we looked up. The wall and ceiling was pretty much covered in mold as the room felt pretty constantly damp. Eh, respiratory difficulty is a small price to pay for all this value!
By this time it was dinner and we walked the streets of Hue to find some appealing food and we came upon Nina's. Friendly service, great ambiance, and delicious food! Best veggie Pho of the trip!
We had a chill evening of cable TV and contemplating mold spores. Before long we were fast asleep on our damp sheets and mattress of hard coiled springs. Hey it's $9, we're stoked!
In the morning we rose early and enjoyed our impressive breakfast with bottomless coffee and prepared ourselves for a day of being hardcore tourists. It was a day at the Citadel with a stop at the Purple Forbidden City for a wander around. On the way there, we walked through the riverside park and crossed the picturesque bridge until we came to a huge, ancient-looking gate and walled city. Negotiating the still insane traffic we walked into the citadel. We shoo'ed off the cyclo-drivers and trying as hard as possible not to bust out our Lonely Planet unless absolutely necessary, we finally made it to the entrance... Or so we thought. Turns out we were at the back entrance and were forced to walk the 2.6 kilometers back to pretty much where we started to enter through the front gate. Most excellent!
Eventually, we got there and had a wander through the wet and foggy gardens of the Purple Forbidden City, which was the walled residence of many Dynasties of Vietnamese Royalty. Unfortunately, many of the buildings were destroyed in Vietnam's many wars, but the ones that still stood were quite a sight, as were the gardens, lakes, a moat that surrounded the Forbidden City.
After we had our fill, we walked out the appropriate gate and continued to wander to find what else this Citadel had to offer. This is where we became confused. There was nothing more to see in this outer walled city aside from many residences, your odd pho stall, and a rowdy group of young Vietnamese getting AFTER it on a Saturday afternoon. We had been walking for several hours by this point and seeing as we were unable to make out what we were supposed to be touring, we thought pulling up a stool and joining them for a Bia was certainly in order.
Though not one of us spoke a word of the other's language, it was quite apparent when they wanted us to drink, as there was a very loud and animated count down... (I'm totally looking this up right now) Môt, Hai, Ba... followed by what I imagine would be "drink" or "cheers" because they all raised their glass and consumed a sizable amount of the glass's contents. We continued this pattern rapidly until we were fresh out of beer, and after a quick photo and a "Cám òn" or "Thank you" we were on our way.
Upon our arrival back at our hotel we met our very friendly and VERY social hotel manager named "Long Life". We chatted for a while before heading up to our new room for the night which was significantly less moldy and helped ourselves to our free mini-bar beers and played some cards.
Before long we were fresh out of beers from the free mini bar and decided to take our anti-social party downstairs and to buy some more. We ended up talking with Long Life and one of his buddies for a while when they started to bust out the goonbag and pour us plenty of complimentary cups full. Long Life was very much interested in practicing his English and had a lot to say. After a good 1.5-2 hours we were getting pretty hungry and so somehow managed to excuse ourselves to our room for a shower before heading out for dinner.
We referred to our trusty pal "Trip Advisor" for a dinner recommendation, but after arriving at the restaurant we decided it was a bit too shee-shee for our blood (read expensive) and so tried our hand at the vegetarian cafe/stall across the street. I wouldn't be able to tell you the name of it, but Damn... That Veggie Hot Pot was Hella Good!!
Definitely a great last minute audible on dinner, and certainly a mere fraction of the price.
In the morning we went for a long run back through the citadel and arrived back at our hotel around 9:30 or so for another free breakfast. Long Life was working again. The poor guy had been working 18 of the last 24 hours between our hotel and the one down the street. Even so, he hadn't lost much steam. He was chat, chat, chattin away as we tried to respond between bites of our breakfast.
We had a late check out and the rest of the day was spent planning the last week in Vietnam, as well as our upcoming trips to Borneo, Indonesia, and Australia. We left the hotel WELL before our 16 hour bus ride to Hanoi was scheduled to depart. There were no seat assignments and we were determined to get the best possible seats. We dropped our bags at the bus station, grabbed another delicious soup at Nina's, and some snacks for the road and waited to out at the bus station for our "V.I.P overnight sleeper bus" to pick us up.
After another hour it had arrived we carefully inspected all possible combinations of seats and settled on some decent ones in the middle, when out of the corner of his eye Adrian noticed to very back seats recline completely flat unlike all the other which were at about a 30 degree angle. Score board! We quickly moved our belongings before the rest of the crowded boarded and every sleeper seat was taken up. And off we went. Another long night ahead of us, no doubt... but looking ok so far.