Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Rainy Hue, sunny Saigon // at 23:59

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The rain cleared for a couple of hours again this morning, after breakfast at Thu's we could get out for almost two hours of walking without getting rained on! Down along the Perfume river, viewing the sad-looking tacky cruise boats, then back around through a local market and past the Vietnamese Olympic swimming pool. I didn't know that Vietnam had ever hosted the Olympics, but there was the building, plastered with the Olympic rings...

Back to the café to read our books for another hour or so, then pack the bags and wait for the airport bus. Leaving Hué all I can is that I'd love to visit again, but I'll make real sure I try and get here in drier weather! We stepped into the airport and the temperature dropped five degrees, into the departure lounge and it felt like another five, onto the plane and down it went again, we were sitting shivering by the time the plane started moving. The BBC announcer voice of the pilot caught us completely by surprise, totally unexpected to hear it here!

22°C in Hué and raining, one hour in the plane, then 32°C and sunny in Saigon! Back out through the crowds in the forecourt we felt as though we'd done this a hundred times before, maybe arriving on an internal flight meant that the touts weren't quite so aggressive, guessing that passengers would have a slightly better understanding of local prices.... Heading for the same hotel we'd stayed in last Wednesday, the driver got stalled by three fire engines blocking the street. Rather than stay and wait — they were already starting to leave — he chose to back out and squeeze down a back alley. By the time we got to the far end of the blockage and could look back up the street, the fire engines were long gone and the street empty!

Luxuriating in the dry weather, we strolled around the block, indulged in a few Saigon beers, then meandered around looking for more of the lacquerwork photo albums we had seen last week. It seems that once you decide on a specific souvenir, from then on every shop in the country takes them off display and hides them under the counter!

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