A lone figure steers their way through a waterlogged rice field; they stand on a thin wooden raft, punting. Their straw hat shades their face from the white sun.
The blue arch of the sky stretches across the sunlit grass, the reflection of clouds gently ripple in the water. Sweeping landscape leaves the cliché and becomes real life – though the phrase doesn’t feel like enough for all this magnificence.
It has been raining all day and only stopped an hour or so ago – all this blue is lucky.
Nestled in Hue’s countryside is a Japanese style bridge, built in the eighteenth century.
According to the guide, it is the local make out point. Not something that first springs to mind when you see this picturesque point but fair play to those locals.
The tour continues to stop at other noteworthy points – only the bridge has any vaguely romantic connotations, even though the old arena where tigers and elephants used to fight one another has surprisingly cosy spots in it.
After driving through a Buddhist tomb* and an incense village, the thread of bikes wind through trees where wispy black tree trunks break up clouds of green.
A short walk through the forest leads to this view.
The river pushes the forest apart, the sun light beginning to fade as evening clouds enter. The sky is dimming but the view still dazzles.
The last spot on the tour is the pagoda, an impressive structure, though perhaps not so much as the surrounding country it sits amongst.
Driving back on main roads – this time surrounded by motorists rather than mountains – it feels like you’re part of the community albeit rather fleetingly. The city is beginning to come to life, flashing lights, neon, motorbikes, horns, juxtaposed by the still river on the other side of the road.
It begins to rain as the last of the engines switch off, the streets are quickly soaked. All the blue has faded to grey.
(Also if you’re wondering – you pronounce Hue like way but with a H)