Waterpark Wanderings + The Imperial City

We spend another two days in Hue due in no small part, again, to a killer hangover. Yes, there is a trend here and no, we aren’t going to judge it.

Clay and I spend a full day bingeing on a show on Netflix while Paul spends said full day trying to get his phone repaired. We wander around the city at night and decide that we absolutely, positively, must leave Hue tomorrow for the Da Nang. We also decide that we absolutely, positively must do some of the sight seeing in Hue.

This means that the next day we will be visiting the abandoned waterpark and the imperial city. We will also search for an Anthony-Bourdain-worthy-bun-bo-hue. All of this will need to happen quickly so that we can head towards the Hai Van pass, also known as Vietnam’s most beautiful coastal drive. It is an ambitious plan, and because you know us well enough by now, you also know that it does not work out.

The Ho Thuy Tien waterpark is easy enough to find, and once we have paid the security guard the fee required for him to look the other way, we are able to explore. We try to sneak our bikes in but, unfortunately, are less than successful. The waterpark was opened in 2004 and was only operational for a few years before it closed down for unknown reasons. What’s left behind now is an enormous complex with several crumbling buildings and attractions and cows roaming free.

Next we visit the Imperial City. Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue houses an enormous citadel which once contained the Imperial City. The structures are still largely intact, though what is most fascinating about them is the bullet holes that still remain in the rock. As the site of one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War, the walls of the citadel and city are riddled with the physical memories of fighting.

Finally, we go in search of food. We visit Dong Ba Market where we hope to find a good bun bo hue. As we are really running out of time at this point and aren’t actually sure where the stall is that Anthony Bourdain visited, we end up picking a random stall and having a feast.

And then we seriously need to run. It is almost 4pm and we still need to make it back to the hotel to pick up laundry and our bags, and complete the 77 kilometer drive to Hai Van Pass. All of this before sunset, which is at around 6pm.

“Guys, we’re never going to make it.”

“Nah, nah, we’ll make it.”

Seeing as the alternative is to spend another night in Hue, which I am not keen on, I think “well fuck it, let’s see what happens.”

We drive as fast as traffic and our limited engines really allow – read: not very fast – and the sun sets. We have at least another 30 kilometers to go. I turn on my headlights, we take a break.

“Sooooo, we’re not going to make it before sunset. What do we want to do?” We’re in a random town between Hue and Da Nang and we could either find a place to camp out here for the night or just continue on to Da Nang.

We, of course, decide to drive on.

It is pitch black, it is my first time riding at night and we are about to traverse none other than the Hai Van Pass.

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