Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hue 2016 - Mandarin Cafe

Mandarin Cafe is quite an institution in Hue. It is probably more famous for its colourful owner Mr Cu then for its food. Mr Cu is a man with a very colourful history - and he is a great photographer. His photos adorn the walls of the cafe - and he will gladly show you all his other photos collected in several albums if you are interested - and they are good. 

You can't miss Mr Cu - he is the one with the French beret charming guests with his beautiful photos.

I wanted to have a bowl of good Bun Bo Hue and Mandarin Cafe is reputed to serve one of the best in the city. It is a bit like Pho - but a lot more spicy and aromatic. There is a distinct note of lemongrass in the broth. Delicious !

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hue 2016 - Hue City Life

Hue is not a very big city and it is possible to walk everywhere. One of the best places to walk is along the An Cuu River. It is very scenic,  the Ann Dinh Palace is along the bank , and there are also several markets located at the main junctions.

You can see street vendors everywhere at any time - morning noon or evening. They are mostly ladies, protected only by their Non La.

Grocery shopping is quite convenient in Hue - you don't even need to get off your bike.

How about getting a hair cut on the road side.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hue 2016 - Boat Trip on the Perfume River

If you join a full day tour in Hue, you will most likely end up at Tien Mu Pagoda as the last stop. This historical pagoda was built in 1601 by one of the first Nguyen Lords - Nguyen Hoang. Standing at seven stories high - it is the tallest religious building in Vietnam.

After the visit to Tien Mu Pagoda, you will most likely go on a boat trip back to Hue City. There are many of these Dragon Boats plying the Perfume River - mostly ferrying tourists. We were scammed by one of the boat ladies on our second day in Hue - she told us she would take us on a ride along the river for around RM50 - which we thought was a great due. It turned out to be a 10min trip crossing the river. Since it wasn't much money - we decided not to argue.

The best time for a boat ride would be in the evening when the sun is about to set.  It is a nice feeling arriving at the City from the water.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hue 2016 - An Dinh Palace

One of the most beautiful heritage buildings in Hue happen to be right in the city. An Dinh Palace was built by Khai Dinh - the 2nd last Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. It was completed in 1918 in a French Colonial style in which Emperor Khai Dinh had great interest. The palace was later used by Khai Dinh's son Bao Dai who was the last emperor of Vietnam. It was almost completely destroyed and was recently restored as part of a German Government aid project.

The building interior on the ground floor is very ornate and impressive.

It was interesting to see the sleeping quarters of the royal family. These rooms are not fully furnished like the ground floor - and not as ornate. In fact the bedrooms are all of quite modest proportions.

There is supposedly an entrance fee to visit the palace - but when we visited the attendants did not bother to collect anything from us. We were left free to wonder through the building and compound on our own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hue 2016 - La Residence Hotel and Spa

If you are looking for the best hotel in Hue - then La Residence Hotel and Spa would definitely fit the bill. It is a beautiful hotel right in the city centre - with a storied history and elegant Art Deco French Colonial architecture. It was once the residence of the French Colonial Governor of Hue. The buildings have been carefully restored, and the large garden compound provide an elegant and relaxing retreat for the guests.

The interior is just as impressive. Art Deco and neo-Classical style carry through from the outside to the inside with soothing colours and graceful lines. Only in the bar does the colour scheme get amped up a bit for some excitement. If you have the cash to spare - this would be the most stylish base to explore Hue.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hue 2016 - La Carambole Restaurant

In every popular Asian city you will find a backpacker's quarter - and in Hue this would be the area around Pham Ngu Lau Street. The street is lined with backpacker hotels, cafes, pubs and restaurants. It is not as chaotic as Khao San Road in Bangkok - and is actually a very pleasant street with colourful signages and cool people. Here you will also find one of the most popular restaurants in Hue - La Carambole.

La Carambole serves French and local Vietnamese food. It is very popular with travelers as well as locals - and booking is recommended. When we got there in the early evening there were already a few big tables of local diners having a great time. The cafe is very charmingly decorated with wood paneled ceiling and colourful lanterns.

Having had our fill of Vietnamese food in the last 2 days - we decided to go Western. The cheese and ham sandwich was good - but not as good as the Banh Mi we had on the street unfortunately.

The steak frites was good - with tender pieces of beef.  The fries were a bit disappointing though - they looked and tasted like supermarket fries.

The best dish was the beef stew which was very flavourful.