Lost in Lanterns. A Vietnamese girl inspects each lantern for tonight’s festival
We had no idea there would a festival in Hué at this time of the year. The Guide Books nor the internet doesn’t have any information on this, so we felt fortunate to have witnessed their celebration of the Chao Mung Festival 2006 in Hué. We were also worried at first since we don’t have any reservations in any hotel there. Thanks to Lee Tien, one of the Easy Riders, a group of Motorcyclist we met in Da Nang, he managed to book us a Hotel in Hué since there was an influx of tourists who are also attending the festival, most popular lodgings are taken. They booked us a double bed room in Ngoc Mai hotel, a bit distant from the central city but manageable enough and the rooms are elegant and cheap for $12 USD per night.
Flag Pole tower performance.
The so called Chao Mung Festival is only on its 3rd year and being held every 2nd weekend of June. Chao Mung, as Lee said meant “Welcoming”. It was probably made to lure more tourists during this season. Most of the programs are held within the Imperial Citadel at night. While we were taking photos we saw how the people were preparing for the nights festival.
Asian Ethnic Dance Performance
There were different programs each night. At the flag pole tower, where the highest flag pole in the world is located, there was the regular dance and band performance. And that night on the 8th of June inside the Citadel behind the Thai Hoa Place, there was a performance of different Asian Ethnic Dances from Thailand, Indonesia and of course, Vietnam. I was entertained by this cultural show since it was a first seeing it live. Their dances seem simple with very minimal movements yet graceful and complicated at the same time. Unlike modern dances, their subtle movements have elegant control which may look simple to look at but their coordination may be hard to master.
I meld into the crowd of spectators, both local and foreign and enjoyed the show. But soon as our hunger signaled us off, we decided to head back for dinner.
Elegant and graceful
Another cyclo incident worth remembering on our way back home: As usual, those cyclo drivers bugged us as we got out of the Citadel, we waited until they lowered their price equivalent to the taxi fare we had of 20000 dong. We waited and were surprised to see a modern rickshaw instead of a scooter came for us. I said OK let’s try this. We showed our Hotel’s card where a map was printed at the back. I repeated if they now the place and they kept on saying “Yes! Yes!” so we rode on navigating to the wild streets of Hué.
Spectators of the Asian Ethnic Dance performance
During our ride they drivers kept on conversing and exchanging looks on our hotel card, we got inkling that they have no idea where this place is! Then suddenly, on the main road, Lee Tien appeared on his Motorcycle. “How the hell did he find us?!” I thought. The city was huge and the streets were bustling. Anyways, while they were driving, we talked on our plans the next day and we asked him to tell our drivers the direction to our hotel. He left us later and soon we’re confident enough that our drivers will find their way.
I could hear my driver panting while he pedaled the cyclo, he kept on repeating “Very Far.” We turned on a corner away from the main road and zigzagged in the inner streets of the city. Then later we found ourselves in a pitch black alley. I heard my friend said from his cyclo in front of me “Eto na! Ho-hold up-in na tayo! (Here it is! They’re gonna rob us now!)”. I laughed at that thought but held on hard to my tripod just in case ready to pounce on anyone attempting to rob us from the sides. Then I heard my driver said “No, don’t worry! It is safe here.” Soon we got out of the alley and saw our Hotel building from a distance. Judging from where they went, it would seem a long path and circled through the city. Geez! These guys can’t read a Map!
Continuing on, we were relieved to see our Hotel. Then our drivers suddenly turned on a street where they believed were a shortcut since it’s on the same direction of where we are going. Then shortly, we found ourselves on a dead end. These guys are really amusing. We turned back on the other street until finally we reached our Hotel. We pitied them a bit and decided to give them an extra 5000 dong for their effort, but they wanted 20000 dong in all! Hey it wasn’t our fault they got lost. They told us in the first place they know where the hotel is. Anyway since they worked up a bit of a sweat and we were able to see the inner city a bit, we gave them the 20000 dong. These drivers never fail to amuse me.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.