Hue - Day 1 - Abandoned Waterpark
From the trainstation we took a taxi to our hotel for the next two nights: the Nice Hue Hotel. Eventhough we arrived before the official check in time, the manager had made sure that our room was ready when we got there. I was really happy about that because I really could use a shower after the night on the train. If you are ever in Hue, consider staying at the place! The staff is really friendly and helpfull, the room was very nice and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance.
After a shower we hopped on the motorbikes that the manager had reserved for us and we drove to the most well know abandoned site in Vietnam: An Abandoned Waterpark with a large Dragon in the middle of the lake.
Since it is a well known place, now many tourists stop here to make some insta-shots. It is so busy that the locals and the guard have a lucrative side business here. They opened a motorbike parking and the guard will let you onto the grounds for a small fee. He gets up from his hammock, collects the cash and lies down again.
Once inside we went straight to the dragon. I loved it!! One from the bucketlist and I was so glad that we were the at the right season. Sometimes the lake is completely empty and I just love the way the dragon reflects on the water.
Fortunately the wind also lied down for a while! We walked around the entire lake to photograph some other places as well, but the highlight definately was the Dragon.
On our way to the Waterpark we had noticed a small decaying Temple along the road. When we were driving back to the hotel, we passed it again so decided to make a quick stop. Unfortunately the doors were locked but the exterior was also woth a shot!
In Hue riding the motorbikes was quite the challenge. The city is pretty busy and rules…well…there are no real rules I think. But we quickly got the hang of it and made it back to the hotel safely.
The hotel manager suggested that we’d walked to ‘Hue Walking Street’ because most restaurants were in that area. It was good suggestion! We had a lovely presented and good meal at another Gecko Restaurant.
Motor Bike Tour around Hue
Our plan for the next day was to drive up and down the Hai Van Pass on our motor bikes. The trip would mean around 180km on a motorbike…on second thought, that plan sounded a bit ambitious. So change of plans…google maps showed a nice scenic route along the ocean and I had pinned a place called ‘An Bang Ghost City’. A cemetery somewhat 20km east of Hue City. The weather was amazing so we took off and decided to just stop at places that seemed interesting & just enjoy the day.
First spontaneous stop was at a boat repair place. While we were shooting pics I suddenly heard meowing kittens. I looked around but saw none. A few seconds later I heard them again, but still no sight of them. When I heard them the third time, I stopped taking photos and looked for them. Now I saw two little ones waggle towards us. They were so hungry that they were happy with the dry cookies that we brought along. Such cuties! Good thing I couldn’t take them home with me or else I would have put them in my bag and drag them with me!
The drive along the coast was such a lovely one! We again left the touristic part of Vietnam behind us and drove through small towns and villages. Seeing more of rural and authentic Vietnam then before. We found a disused temple and were up & close to a waterbuffalo for the first time. So of course I had to jump of and photograph it.
In one of the small town we noticed an overgrown small temple. We immediately turned around to take a closer look and it was worth it! Next to the small temple there was a larger one. Still in use but worth a shot!
City of Ghosts - An Bang Cemetery
A little history on this place: After the reunification in 1975 many people moved to the USA and Europe. Those people would send money back home and since afterlife is very important for the Vietnamese, they used the money to build these extravagant tombs.
I had seen pictures online, so I knew what to expect…but still I was in awe with what we saw. Acres full of decorated tombs, as far as the eye could see. I felt so small walking in the mids of these.
We spent quite some time walking among the tombs but then it was time to drive back to Hue. On the way back we stopped to take some photos of workmen on carts being pulled by water buffalo’s. I thought this was really cool!
Close to Hue we visited an abandoned mansion owned by Mr. Ngo Dinh Can. Mr. Can had forced the previous owner to sell him to property. He then built a two story villa on it and converted the poperty into a resort of pleasure and beauty but it also functioned as a facility to torture and abuse revolutionaries held in custody within the ‘nine bunkers’ prison from 1955-1963. Now it is a historical landmark but is completely decayed.
Hue - Day 2 - Imperial City & More
The next morning we got up bright and early to spend another day in and around Hue. First up was the Imperial City. Construction of this amazing citadel started in 1804 when Nguyễn Ánh ascended the throne and proclaimed himself Emperor of Vietnam with Hue as capitol.
The layout of the city: the grounds are protected by fortified ramparts and ringed by a moat. The enclosure within is the citadel. Inside the citadel is the imperial city with a perimeter wall some 2.5km in length. Within the city there also is a part called the ‘Purple Forbidden City’. This part was restricted to the imperial family.
We knew that somewhere within the city there was a small part that was abandoned so we were on a mission to find and photograph this part…and we succeeded in this mission 😉
After playing tourist it was time for some exploring again. Up next was a small temple somewhere on the outskirts of Hue. Our navigation seemed to direct us to a dead end street. We saw no road or anything, but then a friendly lady on a motorbike passed us and signed that we had to follow her. She drove right up to a house and suddely up a sort of pavement around the house. It was actually a small path and google maps told us that was the way to go. We followed her across some other small roads criss cross through the village. Suddenly we had to turn right and were driving on an old cemetery. No sign of the temple yet.
We passed a house, well passed it…it was almost as if we drove right through the kitchen! The people living in it had some tarp from their house to the wall across the path and had there belonings all over the place. Maps showed that we had driven to far, so we had to drive through the kitchen again. This time the curious owner came outside. We showed where we wanted to go on the phone and she pointed out a small path through bushes and further down the overgrown cemetery. Suddenly we saw the tip of the temple! We parked our motorbikes and to our surprise there was also a small decayed school close to the temple.
After this it was time to head back to the hotel. That night we would again spend on a night train. We had already checked out the hotel in the morning but had to return the motorbikes. The owner of the hotel was so kind to let us use a shower so we could get on the train freshly washed.
This time the journey would be nearly 17 hours!! So we picked up some food and drinks for the journey, grabbed a snacks to eat, had a nice Vietnamese coffee and headed to the trainstation.
Read part 4 for the rest of the trip!