We flew from Ho Chi Minh to Hue to visit this former imperial capital in Central Vietnam. Other than the Citadel, some pagodas and tombs, we hardly know anything about this former capital that was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors till 1945. Pronounced “whay”, we were cautious not to overdo the touristy stuff under this sweltering heat. In a sense, we welcome the occasional afternoon rain.

Hue welcomed us with pleasant weather. No rain upon arrival in Hotel Saigon Morin. Breezy. And just perfect. We have a full day tomorrow visiting the Citadel, royal tombs, the Thien Mu Pagoda and its bonsai garden. Thus, we wanted to take it easy today. No cyclos, no boat rides, no late nights. Just one quiet night in our lovely century-old hotel. Perhaps quietly drinking a cold beer in the balcony with a perfect riverside view. Or maybe swim in the hotel pool, sipping one of those sugarcane juices laced with lemon grass. That was the plan.

Then, food thoughts interfered. Strolling along the Perfume River, we stumbled upon Pho Di Bo walking street. Immediately, we knew this won’t be an early night. There were many food choices, many shopping options, plenty cafes and bars, street mimes, and of course those low stools and tiny tables lining the streets. We managed to do some decent shopping but not before our dinner in this Vietnamese restaurant serving special Hue dishes. Loved everything we ordered. We were almost done eating when we decided we needed another round of those yummy spring rolls. 😊

It’s Day 3 and we have been eating Vietnamese everyday. Fat chance we’d grow tired of it especially the way my grandson has taken to spring rolls. That’s fine — he’s eating more vegetables now, and drinking fresh fruit smoothies like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve tried the Jackfruit Smoothie and loved it. You can smell it even before you drink it. Been eating our fav custard apples (atis) too. Happiness 😊

Beyond Golden Rice Restaurant are the cafes and bars. In one bar, several hunks were playing a game where players had to be garbed in ladies’ clothes. Some losers prowled the streets without changing back to men’s clothes. Could they be…. are they? Well, in my book they looked cool in midriff and short blouses. In the next street corner, children stood still and in awe of street mimes, while stalls selling ice cream, sugarcane juices, souvenirs, civet coffee and whatever else lined the street.

Remembering we have a full day tomorrow, we headed back to our hotel. A short riverside walk brought us to the place where people got on boats for a dinner-cruise, and where a vibrant night market was in full swing right under the bridge spanning Perfume River. Here we met 4 sweet, twinning teenage girls.

We weren’t expecting to be “busy” on our first night here. But even before our history lessons start tomorrow, we already like it here. Chances are we’d be back in the Pho Di Bo walking street tomorrow, if we aren’t too tired. There’s a certain vibe there that we appreciate. Like we enjoyed chatting with the friendly hotel door man, the cyclo drivers, the night market vendors, the teenage girls in identical clothes, the store owners, etc. Looking forward to explore more of Hue tomorrow. 😊

P.S. We loved it so much here that we went back again for dinner, some shopping and drinks. Found another gem — Elegant Restaurant just a few meters from Golden Rice. Enjoyed their duck spring rolls, papaya salad, grilled pork with vermicelli, stuffed squid, and a tofu dish. Finished off with banana FlambΓ© (the real McCoy, not the one with coconut milk) and some vanilla ice cream. And while the boys shopped, the girls enjoyed a Huda beer . Life is good.