from that i hope you all realise that i am in Hue, sort of central vietnam ish.
after i last wrote in hanoi, i didnt manage to buy the posters i wanted because someone stole in there before i went back and bought the two i wanted, so i had to settle for 2 copied rare oasis cds from down the road. i have alot to thank these boys for, as they recently stopped me going insane.
the bus down from hanoi was packed to the rafters, although with alot of locals and not many backpackers. it was pretty uncomfortable but i have had worse trips, the main problem was the weather. we drove through a thunder storm for the first 3 hours, the display of forks across the sky was impressive but the rain made the crazy driver even crazier and he appeared to speed up rather than slow down. this led to a couple of near misses with the on coming traffic and one of these left me with a sizeable lump on my head as i smacked into the window. after that any small chance i had of sleeping was removed and i preceeded to listen to every single oasis track, in release date order no less, for the majority of the trip.
this gave me alot of time sitting in the dark thinking. i have come to the conclusion that you should never miss an opportunity to take a leak, stretch your legs or get wet when travelling. i also came up with some business ideas - ymca dolls which dance and move, patent pending, and a service which scans in and copies your family photo albums to disk, so that they can be stored in alot of places, in case the house burns down. the last one got me quite excited at 3 in the morning and i think that is how i willmake my first million.
when i got into hue, after the 14 hour trip the usual carnage greeted me. as you attempt to get off the bus people grab you and your bags and try and take you to there guesthouses. dont what you need after 30 hours without sleep. did manage to find a decent cheap one and me and lucy have both got a double bed and air-con, plus fan at a good price and the first air-con i have had for a week or two. both are bags had somehow managed to get wet in storage and smelt lovely, another batch of washing was dispatched.
i didnt really want to waste the day so i went for my now traditional wander around a new town, without a map, in order to explore. ended up going to the citidel and the forbidden city which were nice but alot of it was destroyed in the war. for you war buffs out there - the movie 'full metal jacket' was filmed here. after that went and got some bait (blame the geordies in leeds (you know who you are) for that, after a while it rubs off on you) in an empty bar and got them to put the recently acquired cds on, while we played pool. we had a couple of drinks and chilled out, glad to be out of hanoi. got talking to the owners and there little 20 month old son showed up. now i am not a baby person, but this little guy was cute, no question and funny, so we stayed there pretty much all afternoon baby sitting.
on the way back to the hotel i spotted a tour operator and for some reason i booked myself on a 13 hour tour of the area for the next day leaving at 06.00 - whats the O stand for for? O my god its early. after which we spotted the bar which is suggested to go in the lonely planet (why is it called the lonely planet?) and headed inside. the DMZ bar is good and there was a healthy mix of locals and travellers. the walls are covered in the scribbles of travellers and the management encourage you to join in. i found a suitable spot and left my mark - nothing is more precious than independence and freedom, rob jude '05. we ended up staying in the bar playing pool and to be honest my memory is slighty faded, but i am assured that i did manage to win 7 games in a row - i was so good that people came in and watched me beat the locals and clapped my every shot. people who know me will know that, that doesnt happen very often, if at all.
i have no idea what time i went to bed but the alarm the next day at 5.50 didnt do me any favours. i went down and got the bus - which was late (shock). the trip was good, although it involved alot of sitting on a bus, depressingly going back north on the same road i had come down on the previous day. the tour took in all the major war sites of the area, apart from a cemmentary, which i really wanted to see but no one goes there.
after the halong bay tour and problems, it was apparent to me that the operators just put you all on the same tour, no matter how much you paid. so i booked the cheapest one possible at 7$, it turned out that other folks doing the sametour paid well over double that.
the first stop was at war site, where the americans had 6000 people based, before they were overun by the viet cong. there is still the airstrip behind the display hall - which was very graffic, people dead and dieing. a local man was walking around selling war junk - i couldnt help myself and purchased a original viet cong medal, which every solider got and an american dog tag, a R.E Powell of the USMC, who i assumed lost his life in the surrounding hills.
after this we went to see a bridge built with funding from cuba, the site of the trail, the dmz zone, the bridge which split north and south and then the vinh moc tunnels. as they were just used for hiding and not fighting they are quite big and i could just about walk through. 300 people lived down there during the war in an attempt to avoid the bombs, it must have been horrible and the 400 metre section which you allowed to view was enough for me.
got back at around 7 and met lucy who had done a different tour to me - of the perfume river - which she said wasnt very good. went for a drink and something to eat at the DMZ bar again and met a few interesting folks - an AC milan fan who i had a good laugh with about the football. i added another note to the wall in this honour -'JC IS MY HERO'. we stayed in there till closing and then wander back and i fell alseep fully clothed on the bed. today i am doing nothing much and i am glad ofthe fact. tomorrow i head south to hoi an, which is supposed to be really really nice so that should be good.