Thursday, 1 September 2011

Roasty Toasty Hue

We arrived in Hue bright and early in the am, before the sun even came up.  Being somewhat frugal, we decided to walk the 2km to the hotel, but I insisted on waiting until it was light outside.  Our walk was actually quite nice: the temperature was reasonable and there were nice wide sidewalks, and little traffic.  We arrived at the hotel and hurrah, our room was ready for us!  We settled in for showers and a nap before hitting the town.

Our first day we headed over to the Citadel, which is the imperial city of the former emperors of the region, and was built starting in 1804.  While most of it was destroyed by US bombs during the Vietnam war, enough remains to get an idea of how the emperors lived.  The entrance gate is still standing, and the middle door was reserved solely for the emperor's use.  We got to enter the 'forbidden purple city' which was the living quarters of the emperor and his family.

One of the gates to the Citadel

The main gate to the Citadel.  The middle door was only ever used by the emperor.  He would watch processionals and spectacles from the upper part of the gate.

The second day, we (stupidly) signed up for a tour to see some of the emperor's tombs that are located outside of town.  It turned out to be a pretty horrible tour.  Lots of tourists crammed into a boat, herded around to different sights and with a disinterested guide that was hard to understand.  We were definitely less than impressed.  But we did get to see some interesting stuff, although we declined to enter several of the places because they did not sound worth the admission price. 

Boat driver for the tour taking great care to steer the boat.

Thien Mu Pagoda, along the banks of the river, one of the cool (free) sights we saw

 I went into Minh Mang's tomb, who was emperor from 1820-1840.  He had a lot of control in the designing of the tomb, and actually spent quite a bit of time in the tomb grounds while he was still alive.  It was quite beautifully designed around a lake, with lots of pagodas for relaxing.

Self-portrait at Minh Mang's tomb.  This statue is representative of the height of Vietnamese men back in the early 1800s.  Crazy!

Steps leading up to Minh Mang's actual tomb.  You could look through the gates, but all you saw was a large hill covered in trees.  He is buried in the hill.

Picture from the tomb of Tu Duc.  Greg is a bit obsessed with taking these cool pictures down hallways.

All in all, Hue was a nice place to spend a couple of days.  It was horrendously hot, and of course we were harassed by numerous people to get a ride (taxi, scooter, bicycle) and buy things, particularly silk paintings.  One time we were sitting in a restaurant when a man comes up and tries to sell us a silk painting for $10 US.  We of course said 'no' and then the waiter came over to us and advised us to be careful, and that if we wanted to buy a painting, we should pay about $1.50, $2 max.  Very interesting!

Last random picture: a woman doing the dishes in the extremely dirty river, right in the middle of town.

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