Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hue - January 19th Morning

The day had finally arrived that I had been preparing for since I booked this trip in September. I would be visiting Kim Long Orphanage in the afternoon.

We still had the morning to do some sightseeing. Since I was the first one up, I went out to our deck to see Hue in the daylight. As I tripped on the table on the way out, I noticed a couple taking pictures next door. I struck up a conversation with them and found that he was an ex-IBMer physician from White Plains, NY and they were touring China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam and just happened to pick Hue as a stopover point. Good Choice.

I walked to the end of the deck and I could see the Citadel as clear as day. It flew the Vietnam flag with the one red star unlike the flag it flew in 1970 with a 50 star field. There were coconuts on the palm trees and the breeze was warm and mild.

After breakfast on the patio, we hailed a cab and headed for the Citadel. It was a bit tough at first to walk the same path as I did in 1970, I felt the same rush and heart pounding that I did when we landed in Saigon. But, having my daughter with me to share that moment made it much easier to take. A lot has changed, but a lot had remained the same. Having Stacy with me to re-live this moment was pretty amazing. I wish that I could have had both daughters with me.

After touring the inside of the walled city, we went into the throne room. I was not happy that pictures were not permitted because I wanted to take the same picture that I shot in 1970 of the golden throne. But, because we were prohibited from doing so, that made my original that more valuable to me.

Of course we found the gift shop where I bought an incense burner and some post cards. We went to a second shop on the opposite end of the complex and I found an amazing chess set. It was hand carved from soapstone, a metamorphic rock, largely composed of the mineral talc and rich in magnesium. Stacy convinced me to buy it but it was too heavy and my bags would be overweight on an in-country flight. So, we decided to pass on it, although I knew I would be sorry if I left it behind.

After about an hour and a half of touring, we left. It was a hot day and we needed to get back to get ready to go to the orphanage. We were being pestered by cyclo drivers to ride with them and tour the city or take us to our hotel but we had learned, very well, to say “No” to these guys and they finally left us alone, especially since I told one that we needed a ride to Phu Bai, about 10 miles away. This really got them to leave us alone.

We passed a small shop on our way to the bridge that had luggage. Stacy convinced me to buy another carry-on so that I could go back to the store and buy the chess set. So, we walked back to the Citadel and since I didn’t want to pay another admission, I convinced the guard to let me pass since I would only be going to the gift shop. After a few minutes, she let me by and I was off to get my chess set. It will look real good in my study. After I got back to the hotel, I checked the value on Google and found that I got a real bargain at $60.00 since it was on some gift sites for $345.00.

We then grabbed a cab, walking through all the cyclo drivers and headed back to La Residence. It was easier to show a cab driver your room key with the hotel name, then try to explain where you wanted to go.

It was still so very hot as we arrived and prepared for my reunion with Kim Long.

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