It'll only take a couple of minutes - but make sure you're back for breakfast at 7am!
I was up early the other day, because I wanted to catch a bit more of Hue before we left on the bus at 8 that morning. Jackie wanted me to get some fresh fruit for the journey.
So I obediently set off on a pushbike borrowed from the Guest House where we were staying. In Great Bedwyn, I would do the same but pop to the village shop or to Waitrose. In Vietnam, things are a bit different.
6am. Down the lane on my yellow pushbike (with an attractive basket on the front). Most of the town already seems awake (many are up at 5 here). Past the old lady on the side of the road who had already put on breakfast for the family (there was a pot on the boil for the rice or noodles and she was cutting up some fresh herbs and vegetables).
Past the Charles Bronson lookalike (who always seems to be there, day or night doing very little, just sitting there, watching the world go by) and straight into the stream of traffic which was already starting to build.
90% of traffic in Vietnam is on 2 wheels and it is amazing how no one seems to get hurt, because when it is busy, the whole road is filled with bikes or motorbikes and you just get swept along. But what is really amazing is the junctions. Because no one is travelling particularly fast, and there are no particular rules like there are in England, everyone is alert, so if you make to turn across oncoming traffic, as long as you are consistent in your movements, the oncoming traffic moves around you like a river.
Over the bridge over the Perfume River; Find the big market, but too early. Lots of activity but no one set up yet. Spotted a few bags of green mangoes but no bananas.
Decide to look in the old part of town, near the Citadel. The great thing about cycling is that you don't get pestered by anyone trying to sell you a ride on a Cyclo or something to eat or something to visit.
Down numerous little streets, past schoolkids heading for school, people heading for work, cyclos laden down with fresh produce being taken to the markets or with building materials or household goods (the ubiquitous Cyclo is not just used to carry tourists, it is used instead of a small van in Vietnam - I have even seen a large heavy mahogany dresser being transported by a Cyclo!)
Lots of people having breakfast, families sitting on tiny plastic chairs or boxes (or just crouching) and lots of people selling breakfast from in front of their houses. Breakfast comprises noodle soup and bread and vegetables, mostly, and some juice or tea or coffee. (There seems to be lots of hanging around in Vietnam too!).
Even the school children eat their breakfast by the side of the road - many outside their schools, where food stations are already set up and groups of kids are already tucking in.
I stop outside a house where a woman has put down her baskets of fruit a) for a rest and b) to sell.
She has ripe mangoes, which is great, because the only mangoes we seem to have found up to now have been hard and green. I buy 3 and rather embarrassingly barter her down from 30p to 20p (bartering is a way of life in Vietnam - they seem to respect you for it, but sometimes it seems a bit pointless).
Then further down the road the landscape opens out into a water-filled area, where women are already at work in their little banana-shaped boats, cutting what looks like watercress. It is a beautiful, serene scene (they probably rose before 5am and have done half a day's work already and will earn the equivalent of about 2 GBP for a long, hard day).
I cycle on. No bananas yet and it's 6.30 already.
Then I spot a lady with a little stall outside her house and she has some little baguettes, so I stop and haggle with her - I buy 3 for 20p.
Time is running out so I turn back. The traffic is really building now, so I get swept along as I move from small tracks to bigger roads - by the time I get to the main bridge, there must be 10 bikes abreast on my side of the road.
Still no bananas.
7am Back to the Guest House. Get directions to a "small local market". Get permission from the missus to have one last try. Sprint round to the small market selling fresh fruit and veg but still no bananas.
Back to base with conclusion that there are no ripe bananas in Hue today for some obscure reason.
Then, after breakfast, as we are leaving to catch the bus, our landlady's brother (or cousin or uncle?) says he'll get some for us for 10,000 Dong (about 30p) and scoots off on his little Honda motorbike.
He arrives back 5 mins later, grinning - and produces a hand of delicious ripe bananas (about 15 of them)
Mission accomplished. Simple really.
There must be a moral to this story, but I enjoyed the trip and the mangoes and bread were delicious!