(PICTURE: The two families meet before the wedding.)
On 9/9/09, Huyen's sister Hoai got married in Hue. I have so many stories to tell from the four days we went away but I'll try and condense them to just a few blogs.
To get to Hue we had a few transportation options. We could take a bus (16 hours), a train (14 hours) or fly down (45 minutes). If Huyen and I were going alone we would clearly have flown since I'm more than willing to pay the extra $3 to fly. Yes, it was just $3 more to fly compared to a sleeping compartment on a train. However, Huyen and I weren't traveling alone since her mother, aunt, grandpa, sister and nephew were all coming with us (her father and brother were taking a bus the night before the wedding). Huyen's mother gets extremely motion sick which ruled out taking a bus. She also is scared to fly which clearly ruled out taking a plane. Thus it was me and the Nguyen's taking the train.
Before the train took off Huyen told me that it is known that a day doesn't go by without a train hitting someone on the tracks. I thought this was an exaggeration until ten minutes into the ride our train hit TWO MOTORBIKES AND A CAR (or a car into two motorbike, or a motorbike into a car and another motorbike. It wasn't very clear). Thank goodness nobody died but it was a pretty scary incident to say the least. All of a sudden our train came to a screeching stop and right next to our window a huge crowd gathered outside. There must have been at least two or three hundred people within two minutes of the accident. On the left side of the train were people with flashlights looking at the motorbike that was caught between the train and the tracks. On the right side of the train was a car that had smashed into the front of someone's house. After ten minutes apparently everything was okay and our train took off again.
(PICTURE: Giving Viet Huong a shoulder ride on the train.)
It sucked that we weren't flying to Hue but at least we had a bed to sleep in...so I thought. Huyen's family decided to only buy three seats in a sleeper compartment and that the rest of the people could sit on the chairs and possibly swap with the people in the beds at some point. Well, of course the older people ended up getting the beds which meant the rest of us were gonna have a long ride ahead of us. After a few minutes of sitting in the seats, Huyen and her sister snuck us into a six bedroom compartment that had only one person in it. I rolled my eyes at this and felt pretty terribly for the tourist in the compartment when Huyen's nephew Viet Huong started to climb on the bunk beds and kick the bed of the tourist. Luckily for that guy a train worker threw us out of the compartment within fifteen minutes...
...ten minutes later, in pure Vietnamese style, we had our own private compartment after Huyen's mother slipped the train worker ten dollars for all of us.
The one advantage of the train is that there are amazing views outside the windows. However, the most amazing thing I saw was inside the train: when it was time to go to bed, Huyen's 70-something grandfather scaled the bunkbeds and climbed up to the highest bed (there were three beds per side). I watched with astonishment as this man flew up the beds like Spiderman. I really hope when I'm 70-something I can still climb like he did...although that's probably not gonna happen since I had a hard enough time getting into the second level bed.
(PICTURE: Huyen with her mom, nephew and sister. Her sister didn't get much sleep.)
The following morning we arrived in Hue and were greeted by Huyen's sister and her fiance Tan. We all freshened up at the hotel and then went to Tan's house to meet his family. While we ate fruit and drank tea, Hoai and Tan handed everyone their wedding invitation. This was just one of many many things that was different than an American wedding. Usually in America we mail out our wedding invites. In Vietnam, not so much. In fact, more often than not, there are no wedding invitations. Usually Huyen is called on the phone and invited to weddings a few days prior to the ceremony taking place....but of course, this could all just be something Huyen told me because I wasn't really invited to the wedding.
(PICTURE: My wedding invitation.)
On our second day in Hue, Huyen's family and I did some sightseeing to different king's tombs. Seeing the tombs was great because I missed all of these sites the first time I was in Hue and it was fun to see how enthusiastic Huyen's grandfather was about the history of his country. Even more amazing was the opportunity to take funny pictures with statues: