When traveling I always want to see how life really is on the back streets, planning my trip to make sure I have city time, if it’s safe to do so…
In Huế, The Citadel and the Imperial City were my main reasons to visit, but I had the extra time to see how people live behind the tourism facade.
I set off to walk around Huế city centre, but I wasn’t too strong, an old hip injury decided to kick in on the beautifully paved streets, it was very humid and I was beginning to despair of my capabilities to walk around Huế.
I had seen many cyclos on the roads.
Cyclos are one-man cycling you around in a sort of front pod, so you relax in comfort and he cycles you, yeah, I was uncomfortable with the concept, it seemed so colonial and privileged, punkah-wallah era, but very normal in Vietnam.
So, I was just having a rest under a leafy tree wondering how long it would take me to hobble back to the hotel and then my Huế saviour cycled up to me.
Offering his cyclo services in a completely charming way, (the price was minimal to a European) and I told him I didn’t think I was comfortable with the concept, but if he could just take me back to the hotel I would give him a good tip. I was about 2kms from the hotel, then he said to me “Don’t you want to explore Huế?”
I said I would love to and I didn’t really think I could do the walking and with a welcoming smile he stopped, “Come on, climb in, let’s go”.
Easily persuaded, as my hip was really hurting, I clambered in and settled into comfort. Cyclo man lived in a village 12km outside Hue, uphill…so at the end of each day, after cycling in 12kms, then cycling around all day, he then cycled home a further 12 km uphill. Humbling really…
He realized I wanted to see street life, I accepted I couldn’t do it on my own and he was just such lovely company, perfect English, guiding, bending over my shoulder as he cycled so I could hear his commentary and such a historian of Huế city.
After the first trip, we negotiated a price for the next day and he was my Hue mentor.
As a local, he had the knowledge of the side of the city that I wanted to see. He got my measure quite quickly, so took me into places that maybe are not on the tourist trail and, as a local, paved a path for my photography of street life in Hue coercing people to interact with me, guiding me through markets, stopping for street food and choosing the best for me to eat.
Temples, markets, street vendors, back streets, my view from the cyclo caught the reality of everyday life in the bustling city.
This lovely Cyclo man, he made Huế come alive for me…
Images of Huế…