A few days ago we met Mr. Ro after he caught Tom admiring his supped up Master Honda after a brief chat we agreed for him to be our tour guide for the day. We hit up the obligatory tourist trap, oh um I mean Royal tomb and quickly decided it wasn’t our gig. While we appreciated learning a bit about the royal history of Vietnam and the tranquil surroundings inside (the tomb is surrounded by a rather impressive wall) the outside which was overrun with chintzy tourist shops and swarming with American and European tourists being carted around in over-sized extremely out of place tour buses made us cringe.
This was the first stop among many Mr. Ro had planned for us, all on the tourist circuit all very cookie cutter all against our grain. I think we blew his mind when we came back from touring the tomb and asked to sit down with him, have some coffee and talk. Just talk. We wanted to find out more about him, his life, what does he do for fun,where does he hang out with his friends and family when he’s not working. We wanted to know and experience those things. “Oh yes, Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, now we’ll go to the Citadel” he replied a few times until it clicked that we had no interest in those things. We’re in no rush, not an average tight tourist schedule, no check list of Lonely Planet must do’s. We want to see the city like he see’s the city , like the average Joe or Hán tự.
Ever since that day he’s taken us in as friends showing us a side of Hue the average traveler doesn’t get to explore. Barely there fishing villages, remote waterfalls (Tom was so over the moon happy about this his excitement was contagious), off the track towns and so much more (we’re going through the pics now I’ll post soon).
Yesterday he invited us to have dinner with his family to thank us for being so kind and making him so lucky (seriously?!?! I’m pretty sure we’re the lucky ones) so this evening we headed over to meet the rest of the Ro clan. His modest living arrangement was overshadowed by the immense hospitality his family and him showed us. His wife cooked us a delicious feast fit for a small army and they were loading us up with beers quicker than we could finish them.
Due to super hero powers that decided to kick in right as we were to leave the hotel in-turn breaking our room key in two (literately I twisted that metal like it was nothing!) I still had my laptop on me and knew I had to bust it out after dinner while were were visiting.
Needless to say it was a hit with the kiddos, even mom got in on it at one point. Lesson of the day: laughter and smiles are the same in every language.