The 29th was a partial travel day from Hoi An to Hue (pronounced something like “vehhh”; not exactly “vay”, but not just “veh”). We drove over this mountain pass which was beautiful but it was heavily overcast and so you couldn’t see too far into the distance.
The mountain pass we drove had some pretty large switch-backs. Thankful we had a good driver and a good bus.
We got to our accommodation, the DMZ Hostel (Google maps labels it “Phuoc An DMZ Hotel” but it’s a hostel) midday, dropped our bags and had lunch at a restaurant just down the street called USHI. The day’s activity was a motor-bike ride around the surrounding area. Such a fun time!!
We stopped to see an ancient bridge and nearby museum on growing and processing rice, the tomb of a king (or emperor I think our local guide called him), a vista overlooking a river where there was an old concrete bunker (The Hill Bunker), we saw how incense is made (smelled amazing), and our last stop was at an active Buddhist temple where our group tried meditating with our Thai guide. Didn’t work for me on the first try but he said you have to practice meditating.
An old lady was at the museum and showed us how the process worked.
Our guide made a reservation at a restaurant that had karaoke. After dinner, our group and the other group that has been traveling generally in tandem with us sang kareoke for a while. Some was better than others; all I know was I was so ready for bed when we finally went back to the hostel. I almost left to go back by myself a couple of times but I wasn’t 100% sure of how to get back. I was 97% sure and since it was pretty late, I just waited.
Most of the day was a free day. I got up later than usual, had breakfast, and then spent all day writing to catch up on my blog.
I did have a yummy dinner though before we left to catch our next overnight train to Hanoi. I went to TA Cafe and had sautéed morning-glory with garlic and rice. Morning glory is a green not much different from spinach and it is really yummy. Oh, and the tea: I had a lemon and lime twist tea – so delicious. I’m going to try to get this tea and make it myself.
We boarded the overnight train earlier than the last two. It was still light about; approximately 5:00pm. Since we had a lot of time to kill, most of us gathered in the boys’ room to play some games. We played this gave where you pick a card that has something you have to do. For example, one card may say “Right finger touching you eye” or “hold card on right forearm” or “hold card in armpit” so for the rest of your game (you have to do/hold each card and the result is some very awkward position that you have to hold until you drop a card and you lose. That was fun.
After that, we started “passing the pot” around and sharing. Hahahaha, got you, didn’t I! Don’t worry, not that pot! No, in each of the overnight trains, there has been a little flower-pot with artificial roses in it. One of the guys said that somehow they got doing this in their hostel room; passing the volleyball around and sharing something about themselves. Well, in the train car we only had the flower pot with flowers, so we would pass this pot around and share. So we started off with how we were feeling, then we shared colors, favorite animals, favorite song, etc., etc. It’s just an incredible group of people.
Afterwards, we played a game where each person wrote a name of some well-known person on a piece of paper. Then we passed the paper one person to the right and put it on our foreheads and had to ask each other questions to figure out who it was. I wrote down Michael Phelps. But the name I got I had no idea who it was (I’ve heard the name before I think) and would never have figured it out. The questions I asked and the answers I came up with were: a black guy who had died between 1980 and 2000, who was part of African history, and who liked pot (yes, this time the drug). Who would you guess? Before I knew about the pot aspect, I thought I had it nailed with Nelson Mandela but I was wrong and after that it was all downhill. Well, the answer is Bob Marley. I literally just looked him up on Google and apparently he’s Jamaican so I am not sure how he was apart of Africa’s history. Anyway, I gave up and looked at the piece of paper and thought “who the heck is Bob Marley?!”
After that, I was just done. The compartments were freezing cold and I was a little miffed that I had no idea who it was so I left and went back to my room, crawled in my cocoon of a sleeping bag, read my book for only a few minutes, then went to sleep until it was time to get up and get ready to get off the train.