I’ll type this very quietly, as I don’t want the pc to notice, but the doctor is coming at 2pm. I’m just about had enough of the pages freezing up when I’m trying to read other blogs, and re-tweet in the groups, and losing information. I’ve heard he’s horribly expensive (and probably only graduated from pre-school last year – he sounds awfully young on the phone) and it will make a huge hole in last month’s royalties, but at least I’m not dumping her in some alien shop for days. She will be getting the personal, royal treatment I hope. You will all sympathize that we just cannot live without a reliable computer.
So, here’s hoping I can get my blog out this morning as usual without any mishaps.
I left off as we tucked ourselves up on the boat floating about in the World Heritage site of Halong Bay in Vietnam. The itinerary said Tai Chi on deck at sunrise. Seemed like a good idea, but I had great difficulty in rising from the bed at all. Little did I know it, but I had, somewhere contracted some lurgy or other.
We floated gently back to shore and soon we were on our way by car for the 4 hour journey to Hanoi airport to fly to Hue city (pronounced Way).
One amazing feature I noticed were many tall, thin houses. I didn’t get a picture of them, the car was going far too fast, but if you can imagine a house only one room wide and 3 stories high. There appeared to be plenty of land around each structure, so why they were not more spread out I couldn’t fathom. None of our guides could explain this strange architecture. In fact they thought we were rather stupid asking. “Houses are houses and we have lots that shape” they replied.
Yet another airport experience and frankly the memory of one melds into the memory of another. I have to admit we got to playing games after the first few flights.
Sometimes they required us to practically strip naked, other times they waved us through without the bat of an eyelid. On one occasion DH smuggled a bottle of mineral water through, on another he had an empty one confiscated. This was very annoying as we could see a water fountain on the other side of the barrier and we’d planned to refill it as soon as we got through – to save on buying yet another bottle at some exorbitant price. Security people also purloined my cigarette lighter, failing to notice the spare one in my handbag. They took my nail clippers, though I’d hardly thought they constituted a dangerous weapon. They pounced on the tablets and phones, but ignored the miles of cables that charged them. Watching the little screen I could have sworn they looked like a wired bomb. Yet another airport person got up and walked away from the scanning screen allowing parcels and baggage to pass through unseen. We never knew what to expect.
And so we landed in Hue, which must have been a very important place at one time, as there was lots to see.
By now the lurgy had stepped up a notch, but knowing that it was easy to get antibiotics, I asked the guide to help me purchase some. Well dosed up, we set off for a dragon boat ride along the Perfume River.
The weather was overcast, rain threatened, so the sliding glass doors on the boat were all pulled across as we cruised along. By this time I was shivering. Now I’m not sure if all dragon boats have the same problem, but the diesel fumes were excruciating. They swirled round us and we were both coughing and spluttering wondering why our guide sat calmly and unaffected.
While we were expected delightful scents, as the name of the river suggested, we were enveloped in noxious engine exhaust fumes. The boat handler also appeared not to notice the polluted air and so it was a relief to reach shore and go look at our first temple – the 7 storey Thien Mu Pagoda.
It was very impressive, but my fingers itched to get out a brush and give it a really good scrub. Age has not been kind to the stonework. There were also a lot of steps to climb, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Next stop was The Imperial Citadel where we would tour the Forbidden City. It stretched for miles and you could honestly walk around there all day. Can you imagine how politically incorrect they were in those days? They didn’t let the plebs and peasants anywhere near these posh buildings, the lower people knew their place!
Well they were beginning to get a bit uppity in what became known as the Georgian times. For example the Churchill’s that social climbing pair were still around when Queen Anne exited this world, but they had done so well for themselves that they built a little cottage in the country for their retirement – maybe they wanted to invite a couple of friends round for tea.
And while they were at it, they prepared a bedroom for Winston Churchill to be born in, they liked to plan ahead.
Now as I mentioned previously, there were about 50 people in line to the throne ahead of the next King but they were Catholic, so they didn’t count. Since Anne left no heirs her second cousin was hijacked from Germany and MADE to sit on the throne, even though he could not understand a word of English.
The people were horrified he was unable to communicate in his new kingdom’s language, even when they did what all English speakers do, speak s-l-o-w-l-y and very l-o-u-d-l-y to make sure the new king understood. But they were wasting their time – he could not and would not speak English.
And, to make matters worse he wasn’t a pin up either, despite what this painter produced. Was he going to be one big mistake? The English had their doubts.