That evening we headed to Hue on the night train. We were supposed to get in at 8am, but various official-looking people told us different things about the actual arrival time and we finally got there mid-afternoon. Our hotel in Hue, the Mimosa Guest House, was clean and central. Hue is a small, pleasant city. The traffic is much more manageable, and there's lots of green space around the river.
We headed out to check out the Imperial City, but it was a bit of a bust. we’re sure it used to be very beautiful, before the "American War" leveled a lot of the buildings. It’s also just not Beijing’s Forbidden City… We ducked into a building during a torrential downpour. The next day we rented bikes from our hotel. We should have looked a little more closely at what we were renting - they were in pretty bad shape. In fact, Ian’s chain came off about 20 minutes after we set out. The chain is encased in a metal housing, so it's not easy to put it back on. Fortunately, a local scooter repair shop came to our rescue, and charged us almost nothing, even though we had failed to negotiate the price before-hand (DOH!).
We biked out to a couple of temples, Tu Dam Pagoda, and Tu Doc. The roads were empty enough to make it a nice ride (although very HOT), and following the map was easy enough. The sights weren't anything special though - we were rather bored by the whole thing. – but it's no Ayutthaya or Sukhothai , Thailand.
We didn't have much luck shopping in Hue - we were unable to find any really good markets selling interesting items, it was mostly knockoff brand names and underwear in the bazaars.
We didn't have much luck with vegetarian restaurants in Hue. We chose to leave the very empty restaurant Hanh Thien Quan Chay (Vegetarian Inn) when we realized all the food had been sitting out, already prepared, uncovered, in incredible heat. Another vegetarian restaurant, Dong Tam, across from Mimosa Guest House had rats running around in the kitchen (which we unfortunately discovered after we'd eaten there!). Our only success was La Carambole, which, while definitely aimed at the tourists, was clean and had very good food and neat decor.