Exploring by Bike.
Exploring unknown places by bike gives us the perfect pace to experience the ever-changing sights, smells and sounds that surround us. We are able to stop and take in the scenery without having to bother someone else and sample local culture close up. Hue, other smaller towns and rural Vietnam in general, is a great place to be discovered by bicycle, even with kids. Having left the Imperial Palace behind, we were back on our two wheeled transportation mode, ready to cycle back to our hotel. Instead of taking the same direct route we had taken that morning, we chose an indirect course.
Life along the Perfume River
It first led us on a cobbled, quiet street, past street food stalls and restaurants, overlooking the murky waters of the outside moat of the Citadel. The souvenir shops seemed more deserted than in the morning hours and the street hawkers more adamant to sell us their wares than before. We stayed on the wide promenade, riding west, parallel to the Perfume River. Large trees lining the avenue covered us with their leafy canopy and Jerome was proudly wearing a new hat, designed and painted by him in the Imperial Enclosure. The few people we passed were sitting on low plastic chairs in make shift roadside cafes sipping on their teas and coffees. Some locals had gathered to admire and purchase orchids from a little market that appeared to have some amazing varieties of the exotic plants.
Crossing the Perfume River
Shortly afterwards we reached the bridge that would take us over the river, right next to the railway bridge we had passed on our way into Hue on the overnight express. A tall water tower looked almost out of place and the busy afternoon traffic of motorbikes blasting past, spoiled the otherwise calm views of the Perfume River below. Some workers were on the railway bridge, probably painting some of the rusty patches.
Safety Comes First
Jerome changed his precious non-la hat for a bike helmet, after joining the others on the main road, for safety. Jerome had been hopeful that a train would pass over the bridge, just as we would pass underneath but luck was not with him that day. Pedalling straight on until our helpful blue line on google maps told us to turn left.
Cycling through Rural Hue
From there on we were in a quiet, residential area, new houses were still springing out of the ground or half finished. To our surprise we even saw some cows grazing in the green grass in between. On a pile of rubbish someone had discarded old shrines that can be found next to many of the local houses…I wonder why?
Time for an Ice Cream
A group of youths were showing off their muscles in an open gym and waved curiously at us. In the distance we noticed the towering clouds that would most likely bring a short shower of thunder and rain, hopefully after we got back to the hotel! We left the tarmac road behind, turning onto a narrow mud path that led us deeper into the rural outskirts of Hue city. Chickens and pigs ran wild in in the gardens and kids played in the streets. A sign suddenly blocked our chosen path, warning us to seek an alternative route due to road works. Thankfully a local on a moped showed us the way on. Once back on the right track we stopped for a “kem” (ice cream) in a small local shop with a friendly lady.
Incense Stick Parade
A woman had carefully laid out thousands of incense sticks onto the pavement and half of the road. It was a peculiar and unusual sight for us and we wondered if no car or moped would accidently drive over her goods.
Arrival Back at the Hotel
After a while of cycling the lanes we finally reached our hotel. The guards at the gate were happy to see we had returned safe and sound, they always seemed far too concerned about our cycling expeditions. I guess for them it was an unfamiliar sight to have guests, especially with kids, and in the heat, cycle around Hue.
Quick Dip in the Pool
The boys just managed to get a dip in the pool before the storm started. We then went into Hue for dinner, in the hotels complimentary bus. I will write our experience about evenings and dinners in a separate post…
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