Monday, January 10, 2011

Hoi An to Hue

 So much to write about. In Hoi An there is this fantastic restaurant, Streets. It is by far the best meal I have eaten in Vietnam. The neat thing about Streets apart from its fantastic culinary achievements is the mission: to provide job training for Vietnamese men and women living on the streets who, otherwise, would have no opportunity to gain employment. Not only does Streets train them as servers and cooks, it also offers a way for them to learn English. Plus the coconut ice cream was DELICIOUS.

I left Hoi An and made my way to Hue (pronounced "way"). Hue was the imperial city of the Nguyen Dynasty and is famous for the Citadel, the Forbidden City and lots of tombs. The forbidden city housed the emperor, princes and princesses, and concubines, you know, the usual. I don't usually hire guides because it's expensive so I found a tour in progress and followed them around until the guide spotted me, but before he did I learned that if someone broke into the forbidden city the punishment was DEATH. Pretty intense.
One of the gates into the Forbidden City

Extreme Koi Pond!

10% of the forbidden city remains. The rest was bombed in the 40's. 

That's me!


All of these are made from broken pieces of ceramic dishes

Like this

Apart of the 10% that remains of the forbidden city
What else is there to do in Hue? Well, honestly, when it's pouring down rain, not a lot. In an attempt to keep to my new years resolutions (live in the "now", volunteer more) I stumbled upon a chance to visit a children's shelter here in Hue. The mission of the Friends of Hue Foundations is to provide economic assistance to families who are victims of natural disasters. Part of this organization includes the Hue Children's Shelter. Not only does it offer a place to sleep, it ensures that the children are properly nourished and educated about ethics and academics. 
I met Erika at the hostel I am staying at here in Hue. She had been in contact with the shelter and asked if I wanted to join her. Together with Erika and Lisa (another traveler I met on my way up from Hoi An) I went to the shelter. When we arrived we met Ai, a Vietnamese American from Texas who has been volunteering at the shelter for almost 2 years. Although we went with the intention of helping, we really only had a chance to tour the building and learn more about the organization.
Lesson of the day: Make sure you aren't the only one making a "funny face" in the picture.

The building

The mattresses were donated recently... tempurpedic, very nice.

On the right is the house mother. She was very shy so I had to get this sneaky shot. 
And that concludes my trip to Hue. Tonight I ride to Hanoi, sleeper bus all the way. Next post: HO CHI MINH. The man preserved. 

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