Day 10 – Hue/Train to Hanoi

Impulsive / Day 10 of 64 / 19 May

It‘s our last day in Hue today. We woke up at 9.30am so we could get to Thuan An Beach around midday. We walked to the main intersection and were lucky enough to find a taxi. Or rather, the taxi found us! The driver, Long, was very helpful and very friendly! On our 30 minute ride, he used Google Translate to talk to us: telling us more about the beach and also about important sights to see in Hue. He would use his phone’s microphone to dictate in Vietnamese, and it would read out the translation in English. We would do the same. When we reached the beach, he gave us his name card and told us to call him when we were done so he could come pick us up.

We reached the beach around 12pm. As we hadn’t had breakfast yet, we decided to have lunch at a small beachfront restaurant. We both got seafood fried rice. After our meal, we headed out to the beach! It was hot. Very hot. I’m pretty sure the sand burned a layer of my feet skin right off. The sea was calling to us to take a dip. There isn’t much to say about beaches, so I’ll let pictures do the talking.

We found a wedding invite by the beach! Good choice!

Thuan An beach was a quiet beach. Peaceful beaches are hard to come by: if they’re good they’re also usually swarmed with tourists and visitors. But Thuan An beach was an exception. There were at most 30 people on the long beach while we were there. Most of the beachgoers were locals. Families and friends just enjoying the cooling respite of the South China Sea.

After two hours at Thuan An, we decided to head off to the Imperial City [Hoàng thành]. We called Long and we reached the city at around 3.30pm.

Hue was the former capital of the Nguyen Empire from 1802-1945. It resembles the Forbidden City in China, with the innermost part of the city reserved for the emperor and other royalty. Modern-day Hue has expanded beyond the walls of the citadel, but people still live and work inside these historic walls. Every day, people use roads that are quite possibly aligned along traditional imperial axes. And, motorcycles and cars drive through the very gates that emperors would have used to enter and leave the citadel.

Is this cultural appropriation?

Admission to the Imperial Palace costs 150000 VND/8 SGD. The admission fee is well worth it, allowing you not only access to the beautiful palaces but also contributing to the restoration of this largely neglected piece of world history. It was interesting to me that such a Chinese-influenced ancient city could exist right in the heart of Vietnam. Many of the original buildings no longer exist, but restoration works are being carried out to restore this imperial capital to its former glory. Do check out Hue’s Imperial City for its historical blend of the Vietnamese and Chinese cultures.

The city closes at 5pm, and our train was only departing at 9.30pm, so we left for the nearby mall to catch Deadpool 2. Along the way, we bought another Vietnamese chendol from the same roadside stall we had visited yesterday.

So many different types of filling. So Sam just asked for one with everything.

Once the movie ended, we walked back to our hostel and left for Hue Railway Station [Ga Huế]. At 8.30pm, cabs were practically non-existent. We were starting to get a bit worried that we wouldn’t make it to the station in time. Luckily, Sam’s impulsive decision to hitchhike saved the day. After being ignored by many passing cars, Sam’s hitchhiker thumb managed to catch the attention of one driver. The whole situation was pretty sketchy, but we needed a ride, and the guy was willing to give us one. So we asked “how much?”, got in, and prayed this wouldn’t be the last journey of our travels. Luckily for us, the people of Hue are kind and helpful, and we reached Hue railway station in one piece at 9.10pm. While I was busy looking out for any sign of our train’s arrival, Sam got us both some Banh Mi for dinner. At around 9.30pm, an announcement of our train’s arrival was made. By 9.45pm, our train to Hanoi (VNR SE20, baolau.com, 743000 VND/43 SGD/pax) pulled out of Hue Railway Station bound for our next destination and also the last stop of our Vietnamese leg.

We made it to the station! Our expressions don’t show it, but we were hugely relieved that hitchhiking actually worked.

Passengers boarding Train SE20 to Hanoi. An almost equal mix of locals and foreign backpackers.

After a long day of walking, it was a relief to see that our cabin was empty except for the both of us. We could stretch out and relax in our four-bed soft sleeper cabin for our fourteen-hour journey to Hanoi.

Coach 12, Cabin 6, Beds 21 and 22.

The extremely long and bumpy walk from the restaurant car back to our cabin.

– Ryan

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