“Our train pulled into Hue station around 8.30am. We were all struck by how quiet Hue was compared to Hanoi. The roads were almost empty (and easy to cross) and there were few other tourists in the vicinity of our hotel. We spent our morning familiarising ourselves with the town, wandering around shops and grabbing some of Hue’s famed pancakes at the Mandarin Café.
Not only are the pancakes famous (try the banana and chocolate one!) but proprietor, Mr Cu, is a celebrated photographer whose stunning photographs decorate the restaurant’s walls. No sooner had we ordered our meals then photo albums were placed in front of each of us for us to admire – all of us purchased postcard versions of Mr Cu’s work.
Our group reconvened early afternoon and once again it was city tour by cyclo. We headed to the Imperial Citadel and then inside the incredible Forbidden Purple City. The skies opened and all of us ran for cover. We suddenly had the grounds to ourselves. It was so peaceful, sitting under the shelter of such remarkable history watching little frogs hopping through puddles. I’ve taken some of my favourite photos here – beautiful dynastic urns, richly coloured interiors, green gardens and ominous grey skies above the pavilions.
We gathered again this evening, all a little unsure of what the Royal Dinner would entail. Donning colourful brocade floor length robes and courtly hats, our group was lead through the restaurant in our regalia accompanied by music and drums. Once seated, more musicians joined us and food appeared.
Our gorgeous 18-year-old King and Queen (Shane and Dani) were seated at the head of the table – drinking Coca-Cola. The food was amazing – not least for its unbelievable presentation. We all looked utterly regal and while we might not have acted particularly nobly, we had a fabulous night together.”
Sarah’s blog will continue in Express over coming weeks. You can click here to read her first installment then jump on board Intrepid’s Reunification Express and travel with Sarah from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City!
* Photo of Sarah and the girls attending the Royal Dinner