From Hanoi to Hue

I caught thr sun ONE MORNING and I immediately put on a cap and sunglasses, applied sunscreen on my face and neck, wore long sleeves and long trousers… And STILL I managed to get sunburnt on the sides of my neck (only the sides!) and the backs of my hands. I look like a walking candy cane.

SO ANYWAY, I spent much of today in transit and very little in the way of sightseeing, so for a quick recap…

I got back from Sapa via the overnight train and arrived in Hanoi really early, like 4:30. I got back to the hotel, where luckily they had a room available for a shower and a quick nap. I had plenty of time to spare before I had to catch my flight, so I took a power walk to the tem of Tran Quoc, a tiny Buddhist temple with a pagoda. This had the added benefit of taking me to The Bookworm, a nice English-language bookstore where I stocked up on some reading material for the flight. It takes like half an hour to walk there from the Old Quarter and another half to get back, but I welcomed the distraction! Plus I got to practice crossing the streets some more!

A rare Vietnamese streetlight. It is strictly optional.

After lunch I got to Noi Bai airport for an authentic Vietnamese boarding experience. Check-in took about an hour of waiting in line, but then security was a breeze -I had been told beforehand that they really don’t put much of an effort screening your belongings or taking things out of bags. Once past security I had hoped to find a café to have lunch, but the domestic terminal was very much still in the USSR. There were no stores, per se, just a couple of posts with shelves right there on the corridor, and two places with food that had like three things on the menu and they were out one. So I had some noodles while listening to the PA explain that they had changed our flight’s gate to another one on the other side of the terminal 10 minutes before boarding time. Cue some hasty airport-running -another PA saying that oh by the way the flight’s been delayed fifteen minutes.
It’s only an hour’s flight, so I landed in Hue airport at about 17:15. The bags came out immediately after we did and I was taken straight to my hotel. This is the part of my trip in which I splurged a bit, to treat myself after the Halong/Sapa chain of excursions. So I’m booked at the Pilgrimage Village, a fantastic resort kind of thing just outside of Hue. My room’s gigantic, with a bathroom the size of my apartment, a veranda, enormous TV, a couch… The grounds have a beautiful swimming pool.
Not that I’m gonna use it, because it was 18°C, foggy and raining all afternoon, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop tomorrow. This was supposed to be he sunny part of the trip… It looks like I’ll have to resign myself to seeing the Imperial Citadel of Hue in the rain. Monday it may not rain, according to the forecast, so I’ll reserva that for a tour of the emperors’ tombs and the pagoda, which aren’t in the city proper. At least I have a great place to come back to if it’s not nice outside!

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