Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Catburgularama in Vietnam

Since my last post, I've been either on buses or waiting for buses, on my long long trip from Hanoi down to Saigon. I'm not even sure what day it is now, although no doubt it says on this computer somewhere.

The one respite from bus-o-rama was an 8-hour layover between buses in the city of Hue. In the Vietnam-U.S.A war, Hue was the centerpoint of the Tet offensive (see top picture and this one) but long before, it was the capital city of imperial Vietnam. So guess who scaled the walls and snuck into the imperial palace! Yeah, it was totally me. It was very Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Here's how it went down. I got off the bus and went to check out the palace. Strolling around the citadel wall, away from the main entrance I found the secondary entrance, a big and ornate doorway. Locked. The wall was old, though, and there were big chinks in the brickwork, so I figured that for fun I'd climb up a bit. I was expecting to be yelled at any second by someone from the street over across the moat, but when no one seemed to notice me, I figured I should just keep climbing. This is where my Quebec city training came in handy. And then I got to the top, and still no voices yelled, so I peeked over and saw.... AN ELEPHANT ON THE OTHER SIDE! That's right, I totally scaled the palace wall and came face-to-face with an elephant. It took me a minute to to realize he was tied up, but no time at all to realize "This is awesome". Then, as surruptitiously as I could in broad daylight, I snuck along the top of the wall and found a ramp entering the palace grounds. Some figures were coming down a path towards me, but I hid before they could see me, until I could tell they were just tourists. After that, it was explore-the-palace time with everyone else. Nice place. It's very big and very run-down, but you can see that it must have been the cat's pyjamas back in the day. I left through the front door, like I was the cat's pyjamas, and then it was back on the bus.

Other trip updates: At the suggestion of Brendan, the only Badinhologist I know, I'm reading Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Also, you'll have to forgive me for typos since I'm doing these posts under an internet-cafe time limit. But then, you probably like finding them. You just love the typos, don't you? ...You disgust me.

Lastly, for those who do or don't remember last spring/summer when I was in Quebec city, you can check out the original catburgularama.


laura said...

what is that cat doing! it has a strange nose.

Matthew said...

That cat is just chilling in a house in a little tiny street in Hue, where I was exploring after seeing the ruins. If by "it has a funny nose" you mean "it has a CUTE nose", then, yes, you're totally right. This one looks like a still life with the fruit, I thought. But can a still life have animals in it? Maybe only if they're really still.

khris said...

why the elephant was tied?? is it a common thing there??

and yeah i love typos :D

u take care!

Benjamin Russell Vaughan said...

Woah. Richard will envy this stuff if he ever reads it. If not he'll envy it in his dreams. He always wanted to be a theif, because they're sneaky. Not that you did any theiving proper, but you were sneaky!

Jenny said...

Too Fun! I'm glad you made it over the wall, however did you find yourself wondering where the buildings were? I was so disappointed that it was mostly flat field. I was expecting something more akin to Beijing's Forbidden City. Ah, the sad realities of what a war does to a country (especially in Vietnam).

And random, according to a guidebook, the women of Hue are said to be the most beautiful in the country - do you agree? Our group did!