Thursday, June 17, 2010

Barely a Day in Hue, Leaving Elliott Behind, and New Friends from Argentina!

Let me first tell you, it was quite a trip on that freaking sleeper bus to Hue . . .

. . . on a more positive note, we made friends with two backpackers at the first stop just outside of Hanoi. While waiting at the stop smoking a cigarette (sorry Mom), we overheard two younger backpackers speaking Spanish--probably the first time we heard Spanish thus far in our travels--so we asked them the common introductory questions while backpacking: Where you from? What's your name? Where have you been so far? (and) How long are you traveling for? They kindly introduced themselves as Andres and Chivi from Argentina--brother and sister in their mid-20's traveling through Southeast Asia. It was awesome to meet other backpackers going in the same direction as us and with similar plans for Viet Nam! Ruben and I quickly told them we are planning a graduation trip to South America after finishing our undergrad work at UC Berkeley and that Argentina was definitely a planned destination during our time there. After the short introduction over a shared cigarette, it was all downhill from there and we became traveling friends.

After making the rough ride on the sleeper bus, we were now ready to find a hotel and lay COMPLETELY horizontal for a few hours. Back in Hanoi, we made arrangements for a hotel--a recommended spot from the travel agents where we had booked our bus ride. We talked Chivi and Andres into joining Ruben, Elliott, and I--staying at our hotel and exploring Hue together. It was difficult, however, convincing Andres into leaving the group of French students (sitting behind me on the bus) with nothing but hope that they might possibly find a hotel nearby (since their group had some VERY pretty ladies with beautiful accents and broken English). A quick side note: Andres and I are the only single guys in our group of five, so I shared his frustration in leaving the Frenchies behind, but it really is quite common to gain new opportunities with new groups of people while traveling, so it wasn't a big deal whatsoever. Regardless, we found our hotel, cheap rates, and nice accommodations, but we had to wait nearly four hours for the people to vacate their rooms from the night before since it was only 8am when we arrived to Hue.

While waiting in the lobby, Elliott booked his ideal day trip that Ruben and I (unfortunately) skipped in order make it to Hoi An for two days because of the custom-made clothing--an opportunity to load up on suites, shirts, and ties for our semester in Washington, D.C. Regretfully, we skipped out on the tour Elliott booked (the DMZ tour of the demilitarized zone from the Viet Nam War and numerous Vietnam memorial sights), but Elliott was not going to pass it up since his dad served in the Viet Nam War and was stationed in that exact area. While waiting for our rooms, Elliott booked his all-day tour for the next day (with a 6am pick-up at our hotel--also another reason Ruben and I wanted to pass it up), so this required him to stay another night in Hue. Still, we had a chance to explore the city for a while that day once we finally were settled into our rooms, had showered off the nasty filth from the sleeper bus, and took a siesta (afternoon nap).

Since Ruben and I knew we weren't going to join Elliott on the DMZ tour and had booked our bus tickets with Chivi and Andres to Hoi An for the following day, we needed to make the most of our short stay in Hue. Honestly, it was a bit of a wash if you ask me. After we caught back up with Elliott days later, he spoke highly of his tour, but while in Hue, we had two things on our agenda: a hair cut (along with a good trimming of my crazy BEARD!) and going to the Hue Festival (a once-every-two-years-festival celebrating the cultural aspects of Hue and the relationship between France and Viet Nam).

Well, the first stop was the salon for a haircut. I do believe that I got more than I had originally bargained for because not only did I get my beard trimmed and a haircut, but for the first time in my life, I had an in-depth ear cleaning.

It still gives me goosebumps because I was incredibly nervous during the whole process, but after watching Andres get his done, I wanted to try it.

Then, Chivi followed our lead and got hers cleaned out as well!

With fresh haircuts, beards trimmed, and ears cleaned (with the honking now amplified!), we were ready for a night at the Hue Festival and the beaches of Hoi An!

Next up on The Dandygram: Extending Our Stay in Hoi An, and It Wasn't for Suits!

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