Introduction to Hue, Vietnam
Hue is located about
halfway up Vietnam on the Perfume River, and was
once the capital of the southern part of Vietnam. Must see things in Hue are
the Imperial Enclosure and Forbidden Purple City within the
Citadel, and just upstream from Hue are the
Pagodas and Imperial Tombs.
A sampan on the
Fast Facts about Hue
- Population just over 1/4
- Major cultural, religious
and educational centre in the past.
- Heavy fighting during 1968
Tet offensive caused much loss of life and destruction.
Hue central market
The photograph on
the left shows piles of sugar canes for sale in the central market in Hue. This
market, along with most other markets in Vietnam, is a fascinating place to
It is also the best place to buy the conical hats worn by locals and tourists
alike. These hats really are light and comfortable to wear, and cost so little.
Hue specialises in "poem hats", these have pictures sandwiched between the two
layers of dried leaves that can be seen when held up to the light.
the left a lady is loading up her two baskets which she will carry on a pole
over her shoulder.
Everything is carried this way, and the carriers can manage
quite heavy loads. They develop a callus on their shoulder where the bamboo
pole rests, and when fully loaded have a smooth, rythmic walk.
If you are
frightened to cross the road, then cross with a pole carrier. It will amuse
them and you will get safely across the road.
bus on the left was in the market bus station. Buses are generally overloaded
in this manner.
Throughout Vietnam the safety regulations are less severe than
might be expected. This can be scary, fun, liberating, exciting, or just
dangerous - it all depends on your frame of mind and what you are doing at the
A street scene
just outside the market.
Trang Tien bridge at night,
left, and during the day, below.
Motorbikes, scooters and cyclos are the common
form of transport.
An alleyway near
the Citadel. It was during Tet when we visited Vietnam this time, and
everywhere there were banners wishing people a Happy new Year.
Starting business in Vietnam
Although Vietnam is a
communist country small businesses are everywhere, and usually they are
thriving. The easiest way to start up a business is to choose one of the three
options on the right.
Mobile bicycle repairs
The cheapest is to
become a mobile bicycle repair man. Nowadays all you need is a pump, a basin or
water and rubber sealant. You can see these guys at almost every busy
intersection. They do the work while the customer waits. Just after
reunification, when money was tight, few of them could afford a plastic basin
for their water, so they used an upturned combat helmet - which were abundant
at the time.
On the right is the pole carrier. All you need are two
baskets, buckets or containers of some sort, twine, and a stout bamboo pole.
then you can either simply transport goods from one location to the next, or
buy or make goods for sale and sell them at the roadside.
Fresh fruit and
coconuts are popular, as is tea or noodle soup. Many of the noodle shops you
see today started off in this way. Firstly with just the pole carrier setting
up at the side of the road and the customers eating standing up or in their own
Then as buisness prospered a plastic table and four low stools were
added. This meant mobility was lost, but more customers could be served and a
regular clientele built up.
Next step was to get more tables and chairs and
perhaps even the luxury of an awning to protect from rain and sun. By this time
the pole carrier is no longer a pole carrier, but must use a cart of some sort.
The next step is the biggest, and that is to move to a building of some
The cyclo driver, on the right may or may not own his cyclo.
In some cities only registered residents can own and operate cyclos. This means
that others must rent the cyclo by the day, and unless these drivers attract
tourists they do not make enough money.
Cyclo owners are usually in a better
position. Usually the cyclo will work almost 24 hours a day being driven by
different family members round the clock.
Just occasionally will the cyclo be owned solely, and
in these cases the cyclo may be the driver's home as well as his means of
earning a living.
Some cyclo drivers will try to cheat you, others will be nice
and very informative. You must bargain for the ride, but make sure that you
agree the price beforehand, and also make sure you are both talking about the
Some cyclo drivers do not like to pull up outside the major
hotels. I think this may be because they are unregistered, or the doormen
expect a cut of the fare or something. If you have no luggage do try to be
understanding about this.
Riding a cyclo for the first time in busy traffic can
be quite an experience, remember if you want to stay attached to your arms keep
them by your sides!