Vietnam has a lot of history, but what intrigued me most about this country was learning more about the Vietnam War. The city of Hue played an important part of the war by being the place of the DMZ or Demilitarized Zone. This was the line in which the North and South were separated. Once the DMZ was established, citizens of Vietnam could not cross over that line. According to the Geneva Agreements, the line was supposed to be established for a short period of time until the country could become unified through elections. The elections never took place and the north and south ended up divided for over 20 years. Citizens of the north that had husbands or children who had traveled to the south, and vice versa, before the agreement were now separated and unable to reunite. We toured this whole area with an English speaking tour guide. We learned about the ways in which the Americans fought with the Vietnamese through words, sounds, sights, and guns. We drove on the Funk Highway, where hundreds of soldiers were killed and the road was cursed until a group of monks organized a vigil to pray for the spirits to ascend to heaven and stop all of the accidents that occurred on the highway year after year. We also took a tour through tunnels that were dug by the Vietnamese in order to hide from the war. They lived in these tunnels for years without sunlight and fresh air. Babies were born, elderly died, and children grew up. The history of this war and these people amaze me.
The rest of our time in Hue was spent exploring the beaches, riding around the city on bicycles, and exploring pagodas. One evening, we boarded a small boat and headed downstream to see just one of Hue's many pagodas. Stets' brought his fly rod along hoping to convince the boat captain for some fishing time later in the evening. The pagoda was small, but beautiful, and set on top of a hill with some great views of the river. After our exploration, we stopped for a fresh coconut and then re-boarded the boat. Stets and Steve worked their magic and were able to convince the captain to stay on the water for one extra hour and if they caught a fish, they would give it to her for dinner. The whiskey and fly rod appeared on the scene and a great evening of casting into the murky waters was upon us. The sun set, the lights of the city appeared, and we all had a great time. No fish were caught or even sighted, but that sure didn't deter us from a wonderful night on the water. We thanked the captain for her time and set out for dinner.
The cuisine in Vietnam is outstanding. Hue seems to be a great place to learn about food as it combines food from the north and south in one central location. Knowing this, we decided to take a cooking class so that we could bring home a taste of our trip. We searched online and found Missy Roo's cooking school. After a quick phone call, the class was scheduled. I was looking forward to it. On the morning of our class, we walked to the restaurant and met our teacher, Thuy (twee). She loaded us all in a taxi and we headed to the local market. Here, we learned of all the ingredients and bought everything we would need fresh from the locals. We headed back to the restaurant where a table was prepared with spices and cooking pots. We made four dishes over the course of the next few hours and then sat down to a magnificent lunch with the food we had prepared. It was a fantastic experience and hopefully I will be able to make these dishes upon my return to the US!