Hue is pronounced “who – ehhh”, not like the color tint. Hue’s a walkable city with loads of history. Silken and I downed Vietnamese Iced Coffee and strolled across the Eiffel Bridge to Hue’s historical center. Hue has a significant amount of French Influence, including that this bridge was made by Gustave Eiffel. The Eiffel Tower is tres magnifique, but the Eiffel Bridge is like Mr. Eiffel going, “Ok, now do I get my pension fund?” He basically just used all the scraps from his tower and laid them sideways to make them a bridge. It looks like a Portland’s Steel Bridge, nothing to write home about.
Instead of wasting film on Eiffel Bridge, Silken took at least 57 photos of a puppy. We were walking past a stand with birds in cages and fishies in tanks, with one lone white-and-brown fuzzball on a leash. Silken got down on her hands and knees so she could cuddle the puppy, making it smile and pant. I prodded her along, but Silken was still scarred by all the dog meat in Cambodia. Silken started sobbing as we walked down the sidewalk. In between cries she would make elaborate plans about saving all of the dogs in SE Asia by shipping them to California. Maybe we could bring the puppy to Ha Long Bay and set it free! Silken, that puppy does not know how to swim.
We passed under Hue’s ancient city gates, whose brick walls have bullet holes from the American-Vietnam War. We got stopped in front of a humongous wartime fortress by a group of Vietnamese high school students. They videotaped interviewing us in English and teaching us the Vietnamese version of “Frere Jaques”- our performance was horrendous. We checked out the Citadel from outside, but our night bus was arriving soon so we decided to spend the entry fee on Hawaiian Pizza instead.
Silken and I were going up to Hanoi a day early while the four others- Daniel, Anika, Grace, and Nicole- adventured to the Phong Nha Caves. As we got settled into our vinyl bunk-bed recliners, I searched the bus’s timetable, but ended up on the bus’s Trip Advisor page, “I would NEVER take the bus,” “…just DON’T DO IT,” “16 hours in hell,”…“longest night of my life…” “and“FLY!!” Oh boy, I cracked a Chang beer and opened a bag of fruit chips to ease my anxiety. As I chomped and sipped away, the bus’s TVs played Vietnamese soap operas, game shows, talent shows and infomercials. Even though my screen was broken, I could still tune-in through the speakers they’d installed in every seat’s headrest. But honestly, it wasn’t that bad. The TVs turned off eventually, and none of our stuff was stolen- it wasn’t until after we escaped our bus that things got wacky.
Our bus rolled into Hanoi at 6 AM, so we were rather delusional when an overeager cab driver hustled us into his taxi. As soon as we told him we were American, he goes “Ooooh, I know, I know, California!”- and blasts Hotel California by The Eagles. He would randomly slap his hand on my knee and croak out a few lyrics. He got really into My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion before dropping us off at Vietnam Backpacker’s Hostel– and charging us 5x the normal rate. Apparently you can only trust certain taxi companies.