Asia,  Destinations,  Travel Diary,  Vietnam

Flooding in Hue!

The evening of November 14th it rained so hard and for so long that the next morning the road was flooded all the way up to the hostel doorway.

Journal date: November 15-16, 2023

Luckily, the flood waters wasn’t coming into the hostel itself…mostly. Every so often a motorboat or large truck would come by and the waves washed back into the hostel. The hostel owners were kept busy sweeping it back out again, trying to keep their kids from playing in the flood waters, and making breakfast for 20-ish backpackers.

We had power still, but almost everything was closed and all tours were canceled. Since I was feeling sick anyway (continued from a few days before in Ninh Binh) this wasn’t a big deal to me, but I felt bad for everyone else at my hostel who was stuck in Hue.

A few backpackers from my hostel made their way to the train station to try and get out of town, but I heard later that they were trapped on the trains for nearly a day. Likewise, it was almost impossible to get to the airport, but if those who DID were able to fly out.

Not every street in Hue was flooded. Some new backpackers arrived on overnight buses and the owner waded out into the flood waters to walk them to the hostel. I met a nice German girl who arrived that morning totally bewildered, and we both sat watching the locals and tourists wade through the streets for a while.

I did NOT want to go out into the water. It looked brown and disgusting, and I know that flood water can be dangerous to walk in. Either you trip over something hidden in its depths, or there’s some nasty germ trying to get you. In fact, the next day I heard about dead rats floating past people’s knees as they walked to an open restaurant for dinner. Yuck!

Luckily for me, I had a small stash of food in my room, including a leftover chicken sandwich and a variety of snacks and water. I could hole up for a day while waiting for the waters to recede.

This sort of thing is why I always recommend keeping SOME food with you, even if you’re in a country where it’s cheap and easy to get meals. Having an emergency granola bar or two can help when you’re in a pinch.

Talking with the hostel owner, I learned that Hue has been flooding regularly for the past few years, and so do other towns along this part of Vietnam like Da Nang and Hoi An. It’s a good idea to be prepared for potentially being stuck somewhere, especially if you’re traveling in Vietnam during rainy season.

The flood waters receded the next day (on my street anyway) and restaurants opened up, so I went out to have lunch at The DMZ Kitchen, a very popular expat/backpacker cafe with a mix of Vietnamese and Western food. I was craving pasta, so I got some with garlic bread and a smoothie– it wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it was worth the price I paid, necessarily. It was interesting to see all the backpackers there with their bags, at any rate. Good people-watching!

As for tourist activities, unfortunately the DMZ tour I booked 2 days ago was still canceled. I managed to get a refund, after a lengthy WhatsApp conversation with the tour company– another tip from me! Always get contact info for your tour company/tour guide after booking, just in case.

Mostly everything else that I wanted to do was still closed, and my weather app forecast more rain for the next few days. I didn’t want to get stuck in Hue, so I booked a tourist bus to Hoi An for the next day instead.

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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