Been hit with the double header of Wimbledon finals week and the first week of the 100th Tour de France, hence the lack of posts recently. We had started planning to follow this year’s TdF around France with a camper van, but work got in the way so we prevaricated, and then went to Vietnam (so not a bad decision in any sense). It would be good to do it though, there’s some interesting people following it and no doubt some great opportunities for portraits; the orange corner on alpe d’huez packed with drunken Dutch for example. What people (well non- cycle race fans) seem to forget is that it’s so much more than just watching the race. That’s over in seconds as they flash past, but it’s the build up, the afterwards and the atmosphere that’s really fun. Anyway a future project perhaps.
We left Hanoi and ventured South using the train. It’s OK but I wouldn’t bother paying the extra for the Livitrans coach. You’ll get hassled, ripped off by people “assisting” you with your luggage and you’ll find the attendants relatives using the good toilet to sleep in on the overnight leg down to Hue. Nothing wrong with rough toilets, but when they’re rocking from side to side and up and down, no flush, broken seat and the floor is awash with god knows what, I’d suggest a light evening meal the night before, or gum boots.
Hue is an interesting town although the tour companies would have you believe there’s little to do here. That’s the point. The old imperial capital was the scene of intense fighting after the Tet offensive in 1968, with much of the city and the imperial palace being destroyed. It has a large student population now and has a vibrant but easy going feel about it.
The night market by the side of the perfume river was a nice place to wander, without the constant pressure you feel in Hanoi, Vientiane or Luang Prabang.