Hue: Old Town, Merchant Houses

Unfortunately we had been given a room next to an incredibly loud Chinese family with a baby, which woke us in the middle of the night; and the rest were talking and laughing at the tops of their voices until late. We could also hear kids shouting as they played in the pool. So we asked for a new room.

We missed breakfast and started late, leaving the hotel about 10.30am and stepping into an intermittent rain that by the afternoon became a downpour. But it was still fun to wander the old town, visiting old merchant houses—the Tan Ky house, 200 years old with Japanese and Chinese architectural influences, all dark wood and inland mother-of-pearl; and another similar house where a couple were having their wedding photos taken (I assume; it could have been a fashion shoot), dressed in brightly coloured and patterned traditional robes. We stumbled upon the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation, founded in 1786, a gaudy hall and garden dominated by mosaic-inlaid dragon statues and painted columns. Then we visited the symbol of Hoi An, the Japanese Covered Bridge, which goes back to the 1590s and has a beautiful little shrine in a room off the tiny, covered thoroughfare.

After some wandering we found an ATM on the other side of the river and got some money, then had a couple of overpriced drinks at a corner bar/restaurant as the rain really started to bucket down. Then we headed back to the hotel, pretty soaked—outside our raincoats from the rain and inside them from the humidity—when we got there.

We moved into our new room—this time we have a view of the river and it’s one level down—but had to politely complain again when we discovered the main supply room for the cleaners was just next door and a horde of cleaners were filling the corridor, talking loudly and packing their trolleys, for ages. The reception staff were very understanding however, and said they would have a word with them.

After a shower, at 4pm, we went downstairs to the spa and had a wonderful complementary one hour massage each, which was extremely relaxing. Then we had drinks in the restaurant (margaritas—the first good cocktails we’ve had in Vietnam), followed by an excellent set meal (also complementary; we were given a bunch of vouchers when we checked in). Sue (Soung) from reception joined us for a long chat and was very keen to take us out for coffee, and the restaurant staff really seemed to take to us too. We haven’t seen any other tourists engage with the staff the way we do, and it’s really fun and satisfying—staff really seem to enjoy practicing their English on us, and we are working hard on our few words of Vietnamese, though the pronunciation is really tricky!

Shame about the rain, but it didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the day at all.

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