To my huge relief I had a good sleep and felt fine in the morning. In fact when the same thing began to happen in the afternoon today, Carol suggested I take an antihistamine and that immediately cleared it up, so it must be some drastic allergic reaction to something.
We slept in and missed the hotel’s breakfast, and about 10am got a taxi to the Imperial Enclosure. We were dropped off just inside the huge moat around the area, so we walked for a while and found a good cafe for breakfast. Then we strolled back to the Enclosure, a huge complex of ruined and restored buildings making up the Emperor’s residence, temples and palaces, built in the early nineteenth century. Seriously damaged in the French and Vietnam wars (understandably, they call the latter the American War here), not much remains, but some of the buildings, gates and gardens were spectacular, and the rest atmospherically overgrown. Especially impressive was the To Mieu temple complex, featuring shrines to the 14 emperors of the Nguyen dynasty, though why these petty despots deserve to be ancestor-worshipped by successive generations is beyond me.
Mid-afternoon we left the complex and headed along the river to Dong Ba market, a fascinating local market packed to overflowing with everything from tupperware to jewellery to shoes to fresh fruit and vegetables to crabs. I was particularly amazed by the incredibly fresh food on display, and once again reminded of how disgusting is the lack of quality and variety—and the ridiculous cost—of the food we have back home.
It began raining as we walked back to the hotel, but we had our raincoats with us. We had a snack back at at Madame Thu’s and planned the next leg of our trip, then returned to the hotel to book a hotel in Hoi An. Then we headed out again for dinner. We looked over a few places but eventually settled on Golden Rice again as the food was so good. The staff recognised us and were very nice.
The streets around the hotel were pumping, even on a Monday night, but we have an early start tomorrow!