The train from Ho Chi Minh City was supposed to get to Hue at three or four in the afternoon but we didn’t end up arriving until six, so our day was basically over when we arrived. We hopped on a taxi for the 10-minute ride to the hostel. We got to see the old city gate lit up at night which was beautiful and then we were there. After check-in, we walked a few minutes to a pizza and pasta restaurant mainly because it was close and open. Also, pizza sounded good after a long train ride with nothing but Pringles to eat for 18 hours. We scarfed down the pizza and the Vietnamese chocolate pancake sandwich we got for dessert. We were not at all tired because we had been cooped up all day so we went to the local convenience store and bought a few beers to enjoy in the hostel’s garden. While we were drinking, we became captivated by the wall behind us that was covered in lizards. There was seven or eight of them all fighting for the best spot around the lamp to catch the most bugs. After a few hours of watching the lizards and just shooting the shit, we called it a night because we wanted to have some energy to explore Hue in the only day we had there.
The next morning we didn’t have to worry about oversleeping because we awoke to the sounds of construction right outside our window at about six in the morning. Apparently, the hostel was expanding and adding another section to the house which is awesome because they were doing so well and great for us because we were forced to get up and get going. We showered and then headed out to find some breakfast and coffee. We stopped at a small cafe just a block or two from the hostel and had a couple of iced coffees. We were told that Vietnam has some of the best coffee so we were excited to finally try some. We ordered a normal black iced coffee and the famous white iced coffee which is pretty much half coffee and half condensed milk. Oh my god, that stuff was good! That half coffee, half condensed milk is the coffee I have been searching for my whole life. I always enjoyed coffee but I wanted it to be thicker and more creamy and this coffee was exactly that… this coffee was pure joy. After that life-changing coffee experience, we walked towards the old citadel to find some food. We stumbled upon one of the only restaurants that were open this early. We got some sausage and eggs and some pho. After a delicious breakfast, we headed to our first site of the day which was the old emperor’s palace grounds.
The first thing we did after entering was to feed the coy fish. Right inside the entrance gate were two huge lily pad and coy fish ponds. They had fish food for 10,000 Dong per bag which is less than 50 cents. After having too much fun watching the coy fish chase the food around we wandered deeper into the citadel. We walked around the grounds and found some beautiful spots within the ruins of the grounds. The royal garden was still vibrant and green with a small stream full of more coy fish. We have seen a lot of palaces at this point, but this one was especially beautiful. After the garden, we headed deeper into the grounds and found an artist selling incredible oil pastel paintings. We searched through the collection of canvases and found one that we both really liked and bought it. We even got a picture with the artist which is always a nice touch. We wandered the grounds for a few hours and then once the sun and the heat got too much we decided to call it a day at the citadel. On the way out we stopped to get a Gatorade, some water, and ice cream to try and cool off. After the short reprieve from the sun, we decided what we wanted to do next with our few hours remaining in Hue.
We decided that we wanted to try and go to an abandoned water park that Haley saw online before we came that was supposed to be somewhat of a tourist attraction now. The pictures look amazing with a massive dinosaur head surrounding the entrance. We hopped in a cab and started the 20-minute ride there. Unfortunately, when we got there it was blocked off by a gate guarded by 10 guys in military uniforms. We figured it would not be the best idea to try and find a way around them so we just asked the driver to take us back to where he got us. This was such a let-down but at least we got to see a lot of the city on the ride there and back. After our failed attempt at the amusement park, we wandered around the city for a little bit making a big loop around the outside of the citadel and then just decided to head back to the hostel. Sadly, we didn’t feel like we had enough time to make a trek out to another site, and honesty we also didn’t want to pay for all the cab rides it would take to get to them so we just wasted time in the hostel lobby. Luckily, they had a dog and two puppies that we played with and they served food so we were able to eat there as well. We sat around for a couple hours until we figured it was close enough to our train that we could head to the station. We asked the hostel to call us a cab and we were off. We had another hour or so at the station but it felt good to be there. After a little more time wasting, we were on the train headed to Hanoi. We boarded the train and had an eventless 15 hours until we arrived in Hanoi.