Word on the grapevine was that there was an Abandoned Waterpark (The Hồ Thuỷ Tiên Water Park) located just outside of the centre of Hue. Now, we've been to plenty of Waterparks in our time. We imagined the manic rapids, the winding water slides and a lazy river sending boats filled with tourists down the water. But could we imagine all this without water?
Apparently, the Waterpark began construction in the early 2000's, however after $3million of investment could no longer hold up, construction came to a halt. Now, all of the rides stand creepily still, waiting to be visited by inquisitive tourists and backpackers, dying to catch a glimpse of the deserted grounds.
When asking other backpackers about the Abandoned Waterpark and reading a few blog posts, we heard of numerous rumours. We heard the park was closed for all tourists... We heard security was tip-top now and that we would be threatened with fine if you we caught roaming on the premises... We heard there was a hefty admission fee to be paid to the guard if you wanted to sneak around. All these rumours didn't scare us - that Waterpark was made to be enjoyed, finished or unfinished, so we were going to do just that!
One thing that did make the exploration of the Waterpark easier for us was... Time. Over the years, there's been many blog posts published about backpackers clutching a scrunched-up napkin on their way to the Waterpark, following a list of scribbled directions that had been written on it by another backpacker, who had dared to explore the Abandoned Waterpark before them. However, it is now April 2018 and there is such a thing as Maps.Me! The location/travel app is commonly used by backpackers as it allows you to add your own locations - anything you might find is of benefit to others such as petrol that is too expensive or sights that should definitely be seen by other backpackers can be found on the app. Therefore, the abandoned Waterpark... can be found on the app too, of course! Although, Jac and I would have loved to have been travelling a few years ago, forced to have to find it ourselves without a push in the right direction. We love anything we have to do a bit of research on or even better, when there's no research and we have to ask a few locals for a bit of information! For example - see our Cambodian Secret Waterfall blog post!
So... We followed maps.me to the location pin pointed on the map. We arrived to see we were the only bike in what looked like a deserted carpark. Half of us (I'm combining both of our brains together in this reference, I know... poor Jac!) thought - what a result, the whole park to ourselves! The other half of us thought - hmmm, is this a bad sign? Are we going to be walked out of here a couple minutes later, having been wrestled to the ground by a team of juiced-up Vietnamese security guards armed with taser guns, batons and angry German Shepard's?! (which would be no surprise, considering some of the Chinese-Whisper-Style rumours we'd been told).
We parked the bike and took a stroll down the hill, we took a left turn and walked towards the direction of a dragon we could see in the distance. There seemed to be no one else around until we heard the quiet hum of a motorbike engine. Oh no, we thought - busted. The daunting sound got louder and louder until a minute later, we were approached by a security guard. He handed us a piece of paper, which had "this Waterpark isn't open for tourists, you need to leave" written on it in English. We raised our hands in confusion and looked at each other, questioning what he was saying to us (if in doubt - play dumb. Works very well when backpacking in Asia). He pointed at this message 3-4 times before Jac took 50,000 VND from his pocket and held it out to the security guard. He hesitated before taking the money and flipping over the piece of paper. The flip side of the paper had 3 rules written on it - no running, jumping or climbing, no camping or fires and no graffiti on the rides. He was clearly used to flipping this piece of paper over, we thought! Upon nodding our heads that we agree to the rules of the park, he rode off into the distance to survey the grounds for backpackers once again.
We were chuffed with this price for the two of us, we had initially said we would pay up to 100,000VND each to explore the park we had heard so much about. We headed down the path towards the big attraction - the humongous pale blue dragon in the middle of the lake. We walked up the stairs of the dragon, all the way to the centre of its' mouth, where you can catch a view the whole park right from in between its' teeth.
Downstairs, inside the dragon, are the remains of what was once an aquarium. The glass was smashed on all of the tanks, splattered everywhere across the floor (note to be careful here). The whole place had such an eery feeling to it as we wondered through the huge shark head which led out to the rest of the park.
Next up was the water-slide section! We walked up the stairs to the top of the water slides and started to walk down the one on the left! It was so fun, but at the same time we were definitely questioning the stability of these water slides as it creaked and shook at the touch of our heavy footsteps! There's two slides in the middle, which are destined to be raced up. We started at the bottom and raced each other to the top of the steep water slides (Jac won, unfortunately for me!). The one on the right however is a bit more daunting. It was one of those closed tunnel shoots all the way down until you zip into the water. We went in, frog-walking for what seemed like an eternity in the dark before finally seeing daylight again at the end! I can't emphasise enough how much this part of the Waterpark is like a cool playground for adults, we loved it!
The next part of the Waterpark, we also had so much fun with. There is an abandoned stadium arena, where animal shows and entertainment would have took place. It was completely deserted and quite frankly, the perfect place to put on our own show, right?! We ran up and down in between the stands, pretending we had an audience to fill the 500 empty seats towering high in front of us. We did a few handstands and Jac spun me around like a rag doll until I felt sick! We took a bow and thanked the crowd for coming out to see the amazing, the wonderful, the spectacular All Gone Rogue!!! (Can you tell that we had wayyyyy too much fun in this bit?)
We left the Abandoned Waterpark after exploring the remainders of the attractions. One of which was a giant clearing which used to be a splash pool for children. Although, I don't think you'd want to throw your child in there now as it's full of thick, green water and dead bugs (depends how naughty your child has been though, I suppose!)
We had such a great time here and we were so buzzing with how little people we saw during our way round the park. It's been kept in its original state and it's an adventure in itself having to bribe the security guard to get in. Definitely get yourself to the Abandoned Waterpark if you find yourself in Hue!