These are steamed rice cakes, about the size of a silver dollar, that come five to eight pieces to an order, topped with dried shrimp, pork cracklings, shallots and herbs and served with a dipping sauce, steamed and served in small ceramic saucers.
Yet another delicious steamed rice savory cake, this time flat, with a mixture of fried ground shrimp, pork and scallions pressed into the surface before it’s wrapped in banana leaves then steamed. I guess this dish is kind of similar to the other dish I order.
Hue is located in central Vietnam on the banks of Perfume River. Some cultural areas of interest are in close walking or taxi distance but I decided to make the most of my time by booking a day tour of the highlights. Day tours are nice because it saves you transportation hassle and it gets me out of my solitary lag. It is nice to spend the day with others every once in a while.
My Hue Vacations tour with tour guide Dany starts with a hotel pickup around 8:00 AM.
Thien Mu Pagoda
Our morning begins with a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda (see photo above). This iconic Buddhist temple is a highlight of the city.
After our visit to the pagoda there is a 30 minute boat trip along the perfume river. It is relaxing but not memorable. The boat operator tries to sell us souvenirs during our ride. I don’t buy anything but a can of soda.
Dong Ba Market
After our boat ride we have a little time to explore Dong Ba Market. I get to feed my love for food markets all over the world. A couple of my tour-mates aren’t happy with this stop but the market is right up my alley.
Next we visit the Imperial city and Citadel. Our guide points out lots of damage from the war. Some of the buildings that are still in place are impressive.
According to our itinerary our lunch is supposed to be at a local home but it is really a restaurant that built for handling lunch service to the various tour groups that come through daily. Lunch is pretty quick and not memorable enough for me to take note of.
Minh Mang King’s Tomb
After lunch we visit Minh Mang’s tomb. It is the final resting place of a famous Confucian ruler during the Nguyen Dynasty. The property has a long stretch of walkways that lead you from monument to monument before you finally reach the tomb which is only open on special occasions.
I enjoy walking around the quiet grounds. There is one influencer doing a photo shoot with her instagram poses but it doesn’t bother me today because the site is not crowded and they also did not block access from others while they were doing their thing – they were willing to put their photo shoot aside while others are around. I give them props for that. So much of my travels were “sullied” by instagram models rudely blocking access to famous sights.
Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh
The last monument stop is the mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh. He was a very unpopular ruler due to his extravagant spending and closeness to the French occupiers. His extravagant taste can be seen in the tomb he built for himself.
Look at all the designs!
incense stick village
Final stop is at an incense stick village shop. We get a demonstration on how the incense is made. I thought about buying some to ship home but it was hard to pick out scents that wouldn’t cause me to get a migraine. The incense village is an interesting stop to end the tour on.
The tour guide takes us back to our hotels and I take it easy the rest of the evening.
I can’t pronounce the town correctly but I sure can enjoy the food. Full disclosure I have been prouncing the name of this city incorrectly before I arrived to Vietnam. I always thought it sounds like view when it really sounds like way. Lesson learned. I am in Hue Vietnam after a short morning flight from Hanoi.
They have their own particular flair on many dishes. There are many fried and unhealthy things but when in Huế…..
First stop is to try some local dishes at Hanh Restaurant. It is around the corner from my hotel and a great place to try out many different Hue style dishes.
Banh Khoai – Savory fried pancake (pork, shrimp, green onion) served with peanut sauce
After lunch I do some wandering around town. Hue is nice and quiet during the day. Like many cities it gets lively at night with the walking streets. I tend not to stay out late but I do my best to try a little bit of nightlife while I am here.
During my walk I find a great park with interesting modern sculptures (Park February 3).
After dark it is time for walking streets. The streets are blocked from cars. Pedestrians, vendors, and diners are out. For some reason there are a bunch of street fires. It is not cold so not 100% sure the purpose of these.
It is almost Halloween and some restaurants celebrate with spooky decor.
I stop in a cafe to get a beer, morning glory, and a bowl of Bun bo Hue. The soup isn’t the best version that I will try in Vietnam but it is good enough for dinner. I am happy for the huge plate of morning glory. I rarely get to eat greens like this when I am traveling.
The crowd gets thicker at all the cafes as time goes on. I shop a little bit then head back to my hotel. I have a tour of Hue booked for the next day.
Get a late start to my final day of Hanoi Vietnam. I Want to visit the Ho chi Minh house and sights in the vicinity but I miss the opening hours since they are limited. I end up just wandering around town instead.
One thing I forgot to mention previously is the Hanoi pedestrian street crossing. It takes courage and special skills to cross the street in Hanoi. It seems so intimidating at first but once you do your first couple street crossings then you never want to go back to your old ways. Hanoi is busy. So many people, so many cars, so many motor bikes; plus bicycles and carts on the road. The traffic appears to stop for no one. There are some intersections with cross signals but in most cases you need to do the Hanoi cross. To cross the street you just walk out into the street and maintain a consistent speed. Vehicles and bikes will move around you. If you hesitate or stop mid-way that is when problems occur. It took me a while to get it but I eventually developed the skill.
Example of crossing in busy traffic. See the two men that walk across on the right.
Example of busy traffic. I am in my uber waiting forever in traffic.
More images from around Hanoi
Monsoon Music Festival
The walking streets are alive at night. The previous weekend I watched a boxing match from the street at a distance. Tonight I watch an act from the Monsoon Music Festival. I love finding free concerts when I travel.
I try my hand at beer street. This is supposed to be the place to try local beers. I didn’t stay out long but I got to experience a little bit of local night life. As I sat outside a bar at a cafe table I watch the constant street vendors and shoe cleaners (will clean your shoes for a fee while you sip your beverages at the bar).
My visit to Hanoi has come to an end. I fly to Hue tomorrow. Even with all the time I spent here, I missed so much. I’ll be back someday.
During my visit to Hanoi Vietnam I came across the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (VWM). The museum has a wealth of information about the lives of Vietnamese women.
First off, it is very nice to get an air conditioned break from the heat. Secondly, there is not a crowd at the museum. Yea me!
I first see a very informative exhibit on marriage and patrilineal (men make the decisions) vs matrilineal (elder women make the decisions) societies in Vietnam. There is a mix of both in Vietnam, mostly depending on what region the group lives. I learn about the varying customs that different groups follow.
I love the exhibit on marriage and birth traditions.
I enjoy the demonstrations of tools and cooking methods.
One of the temporary exhibitions is a mother goddess exhibit. It describes the practice and rituals of worshiping mother goddess by traditional Vietnamese.
Another floor has an exhibit on how important women were during the Vietnam war.
Women were instrumental in creating human bridges that would make it possible to carry wounded across waterways when it was flooded.
Vietnamese women were skilled in sneaking private documents behind enemy lines. There is an exhibit on the ways women used to sneak documents. Women would walk around unnoticed during the war and were often employed in this capacity.
A final impressive exhibit is the display of the different attire of Vietnam. I love seeing the different colors and styles throughout different regions.