January 11, 2006
My day began earlier than everyone else's as I had to meet the person delivering the custom-fitted silk robes I ordered last night. The hotel wouldn't cash my traveler's cheques, as well as another student's, so the deliveryman had us hop on the back of his motorbike to take us to the bank. This was an experience I did not expect to have. All three of us, on one motorbike, rode down the street to the bank. We cashed out traveler's cheques and the deliveryman then dropped us back at the hotel.
From Hoi An we departed for Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty of the 19th century. The drive was breathtaking. We took the scenic route via the Hai Van Pass, which means "Pass of the Ocean Clouds." The mountain was covered with lush green foliage and had waterfalls trickling down the mountainside in many spots. At the bottom of the mountain were rice paddies and the South China Sea. We stopped to get out for pictures at an observation point and were again accosted by vendors. The woman who attached herself to me told me I was beautiful and that she would have good luck and I would have a happy new year if I bought some postcards from her. After I told her that I did not have any money on me, she began telling me
about her family and how I could borrow the money from a friend. When I got back on the bus she stood at my window and stared at me, pleading. Even though I knew it was all part of the gimmick, I couldn't help but feel a little bit bad.
When we arrived in Hue, we went straight to our hotel, the Saigon Morin. This is one of the nicest hotels in which I have ever stayed - rose petals on the bed and welcome fruit basket-nice. And the bed is softer than in our last two hotels, which is an added bonus.