From Hue’s Tiger Arena to the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City (2010)

In September 2010 I went back to Australia for a while after spending months travelling in the US, Europe and Asia. My return was to catch up with family and friends, do some travel there and a few months of contract work to boost the coffers, then I had planned to move to the US. But with the economy still in the gutter I thought, what the hell, I am going to Vietnam and Laos for 2 months (via Singapore)! So I put the relocation off for a while and headed to S.E. Asia. I wrote a number of travel emails from that trip and I thought it would be fun to revisit them with some additional info and photos. The following blog is Part 8 of that journey (Hue, Central Vietnam).

November 30th, 2010

Hi All,

I made it back to Hue via a local minibus from Dong Ha – quite a trip, meant to seat about 14, would have had about 20 onboard! Cheap, relatively quick and I didn’t have anyone sharing the same seat or sitting on my knee like the others onboard, so I couldn’t complain! I seemed to provide some amusement to the locals, must not have many tourists take that form of transport (actually in 2 days i didn’t see any other non Vietnamese in Dong Ha, other than those on DMZ tour buses from Hue).

In Hue I went to the National School, nice old buildings and gardens for a very famous school. Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap and many communist party leaders went to this school in their younger days. A number of current students came up for a chat, they were all about 15 and spoke excellent English for their age. I also managed to go to the Ho Chi Minh museum across the road and not get thrown out this time (unlike in Danang)!!!

Hue National School Ho Chi Minh Giap
National School

I resisted some war relics from 1975 out near the citadel. A collection of captured US and South Vietnamese tanks and armoured vehicles.

War Relics Hue Vietnam M-48
War Relics 1975

On my last day in HueI took a motorbike tour to a number of historic places outside of the city including the Tu Hieu Pagoda a very peaceful temple, Vietnam war era military bunkers on Vong Canh Hill, the Thanh Thoan Japanese Covered Bridge and my favourite the “Tiger Arena” (kind of like a mini Colosseum), once used by the Emperor to show Elephants fighting Tigers (the poor tigers were apparently declawed and had there teeth removed!).

Monks Tu Hieu Pagoda Hue Vietnam
Tu Hieu Pagoda
Vong Canh Hill Perfume River Vietnam
View from Vong Canh Hill & Perfume River
Bunkers on Vong Canh Hill Hue
Bunkers on Vong Canh Hill
Thanh Thoan Japanese Covered Bridge Hue Vietnam
Thanh Thoan Japanese Covered Bridge
Tiger Arena Hue Vietnam
Tiger Arena
Tiger Arena Hue Vietnam
Tiger Arena

Eventually my time in Central Vietnam had to end, so I took a flight back to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where my journey in Vietnam first began many weeks ago. It was really hot upon arrival. First impressions of HCMC is that it is far more modern and western in appearance than anywhere else in Vietnam. The streets are wider and the city feels more open but there is still a lot of traffic (motorbikes in particular).

Ho Chi Minh City Saigon Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City

Peak hour on the road is somewhat of a nightmare as it is a big spread out city, a lot of people are trying to get somewhere. This is an interesting part of Vietnam, they get up very early (you can hear the Communist party messages in most big cities over loud speakers early in the morning) and people are always heading somewhere on the roads, but most of the time you see people just lazing about. They have a 2 hour lunch break if they do work and the roads get busy again during that time, but as for the rest, I am starting to think they just ride around all day? Puzzling????

Ho Chi Minh City
HCMC Ben Thanh Market Saigon Vietnam
HCMC Ben Thanh Market

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