Discovering Central Vietnam

gate imperial city hue vietnam

              Having finished an event filled few weeks in Southern Vietnam, it was time for us to make our way to our last section of the country; the central region.  This would be our last bit of time in Vietnam, but it would also be one of its most eventful.  What had originally been planned for only a one-week tour turned into almost three.

imperial gate hue vietnam
One of the many gateways in the Imperial Citadel in Hue, Vietnam.

              Central Vietnam was one of the areas I had been looking forward to visiting since we had arrived for two reasons, history and food.  Historically, I was going to get to see a wide range of Vietnamese history; from 17th century Hoi An to Imperial Hue and the Vietnam War era DMZ.  Food wise, I had come to understand that each region of Vietnam had its own specialties.  Central Vietnam having the most diverse range of different foods; many of which could only be found there.

hoi an waterfront vietnam world away
Hoi An Waterfront, Vietnam.

              Hoi An was our first stop in Central Vietnam.  I had been informed for a few days prior to arriving that we would be spending a lot of time shopping, as Hoi An was the known as the “tailor capitol” of Vietnam.  I can’t say that I didn’t partake myself, I mean I was there, I could pass it up.  So, I visited the Bebe tailor shop and got fitted for a three-piece suit. 

hoi an ancient city vietnam world away
Streets of Hoi An Ancient City, Vietnam.

              While we waited the three days for our clothes to be sewn and refitted, we took a tour of what else Hoi An had to offer.  The entire downtown area is a UNESCO Heritage Site filled with canary yellow buildings of the colonial age and interspersed with 17th century wooden houses.  As we walked around enjoying the sights, we also stopped in to many of the shops and restaurants, as well as a craft brewery. 

dragon bridge danang vietnam world away
Dragon Bridge in Danang, Vietnam.

              Three days later we received our tailored clothes and set off on the short bus ride north to Da Nang.  Da Nang had two things I was looking forward too, food and craft beer.  Nem Lui, basically a build your own pork spring roll, is what Da Nang is known for and we covered that on the day we arrived.  The following day we hungout on the beach eating tropical fruit before heading that evening into town.  In town, we headed over to 7 Bridges, a four-story tall brewpub over looking the river and Dragon Bridge.  Going to the top floor, I tried a few of their beers and watched the Dragon Bridge’s nightly show.  The bridge, so named because its trusses are in the shape of a large dragon, puts on a show each night where it blows water and fire out of its mouth. 

imperial citadel hue vietnam world away
A residence at the Imperial Citadel in Hue, Vietnam.

              The following day we headed for Hue, the Imperial City, where our trip took a turn for the worse.  Renting a moto, we had planned to see the City of Ghosts, a bunch of Royal tombs, and the Imperial Citadel, but we ended up only in the hospital.  Only one kilometer from our first stop another moto made a U-turn in front of us and gave me no other choice than to lay ours down.  This resulted in a bunch of cuts, scrapes, and breaks, but the moto was unscathed…  Peeling myself off the concrete, we were fortunate enough that there were people around that offered to take us to the local clinic, where a nurse cleaned us up a bit and tried to stop the bleeding.  We were then transferred to a hospital where we were further cleaned up and received x-rays and stitches (all of which cost about $45 USD).

minh mang tomb hue vietnam world away
A temple at the Minh Mang Tomb in Hue, Vietnam.

              While we laid in the hospital recovering, the owner of our hotel showed up to get our moto and take us back to the hotel.  The hospitality of the hotel owner was amazing and I could never thank him enough.  He never charged us for the moto, offered to take us back to the hospital if we needed, gave us a discount on our extended days, and recommended us to some cheap tours when I had recovered enough to walk.  This all was amazing, especially since infection shortly ensued in my leg due to my poor cleaning.  We ended up needing to extend our stay for a week; I unable to walk further than the 1-2 blocks to get food.

khe sanh combat base trench dmz vietnam world away
A trench at Khe Sanh Combat Base in the DMZ, Vietnam.

              Once I had recovered enough to walk, we joined a tour of Hue that included most of the sites we had originally planned to see.  The tour was great and we got to meet some really nice people as well.  The following day after that we joined another tour to see the DMZ as well.  You hear a lot about the Vietnam War in school and from movies, but it was great to see the places in person.  It was also refreshing to be able to hear about the war and battles from the other perspective. 

thien mu pagoda hue vietnam
Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam.

              The next day was our last in Vietnam and ended our three-month tour of the country.  We would move on to Laos, but would keep fond memories of Vietnam.  It still today is one of my favorite countries that I have traveled to.  

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