October 6, 2011 Thursday Hue
I began today thinking, “Today is a transit day”. It was, but only for the first 3 hours after an early start at 7:30am. Our bus drives us towards Hue through Da Nang, the center of the American War. We drive along China Beach, where much construction work is going on. Scores of Resorts are in the planning and building stage and Da Nang will be the next ‘Bali’ in just a few years time. We climb higher up the Van Pass and view the coastline to the north and the south and on towards Hue.
We are checked in to our hotel in Hue at 11:30am. http://www.la-residence-hue.com/ Then, the fun starts for a wonderful day. 13 motorbikes are waiting for us to hop on the back for a five hour tour of the Hue region. We ride busy main roads, quiet country paths, across rice paddy fields, through what appears to be backyards.
The first stop is on the bank of a paddy field. Here we learn about the rice planting season and a little of how the dead are buried. There is a cemetery just across the rice paddy. It’s interesting that often, more is spent on the grave than the cost of the house they lived in most of their lives.
The second stop was at a very old, covered bridge – magnificent! Just near here, we become enthralled by an old lady teaching us how to cut, harvest, thrash, and mill rice. She is just beautiful; singing away as she demonstrates the tasks of a rice farmer.
Our third stop is at an orphanage that Lyn had stopped at on last year’s trip. On her return, two other ladies who had traveled with last year’s group, mentioned the orphanage to the Inner Wheel Club of Wandin and they donated $500 towards running the orphanage. We learn that the money was used to buy diesel for the school bus and milk for the new borne babes who had no parents to care for them. The orphanage has very little assets but the buildings are so clean, and the children look very healthy. They are in good care from the monks and helpers. We have a full vegetarian meal here that just kept coming out to our table. All are praising the taste and quality of the food.
From the orphanage, we travel narrow laneways to where we learn how incense sticks are made, how to make a Vietnamese hat, and end up at the “Forbidden City”; another enormous area but needing a lot of repair work done to it. They are slowly reconstructing the buildings that were used prior to the demise of the dynasties. The kings of the dynasties were well known to have many wives, concubines and fair maidens. And they all had to be accommodated too.
Senior’s Moment. For years, we taught our children not to lay out in the sun. Yesterday, as I said, many of us enjoyed the pool at the resort and spent quite a few hours enjoying lots of vitamin D. Ken has very red shins, face and tummy (we are told) today. How long does it take?