Monday, July 1, 2013

Hue & the Epic City Tour

We spent one night and one day in Hue, mostly to break up the long journey from Hoi An to Hanoi. We stayed at a fantastic little hotel with two of the most helpful hotel proprietors - they helped us book a great city tour and made us a Hue speciality soup, Bun Bo Hue, because we wouldn't have enough time to get it at a restaurant given our tight schedule.

Putting wax on the incense
 Our first site was the tomb of Tu Duc (built 1864-1867). He was the 4th emperor of Vietnam's Nguyen dynasty and had 104 wives, but no children - he had smallpox when he was a child! He had 3 adopted children so the eldest became emperor upon his death.
Mandarin scholars had to be shorter than the king, even if meant bowing

The Nguyen dynasty wrote in Mandarin script

beautiful decorations on the tomb of Tu Duc,

The real grave is hidden, but this is the official landmark
We visited Minh Mang's temple next (built 1841-1843), which was designed to look like a body when viewed from the sky. The tomb formed the head, the temple the body, with 4 lakes to form the arms and legs. It was a gorgeous layout!

Finally, we visited the tomb of Khai Dinh (finished 1925), the penultimate emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. His temple was on a very small piece of land when compared with the other tomb, but was built beautifully and in a much more French and Chinese style.

look at dem googly-eyes!

After lunch, we had a full afternoon and it was HOT.  The temperature was pushing 40*C and I felt like melting into the ground at times. Poor YD isn't used to the heat and humidity so I think it was much worse for him!  Our first stop was to the Citadel, which used to protect the town from invaders and has a huge enclosure of hundreds of buildings. We didn't have the time or energy to see many, plus there is a lot of construction, but it was impressive nonetheless. I'm surprised at how many open courtyards there were - given the heat, it would be nicer to have at least fabric covering the grassy areas to keep things a bit cooler. Maybe that was the case during the Citadel's active use... it reminds me of the forts in Rajasthan, India, which were boiling hot and  often had large, exposed courtyards.
Massive Vietnam flag flying in the breeze

Display of tanks and machines
We finished the tour at the Thien Mu Pagoda, which means "Heavenly Lady." It is seven stories high and very beautiful, with a functioning temple at the back.

To end the tour, we took a dragon boat back to the dock near our hotel. It was a lovely day, but VERY hot. We drank a lot of water!! At the hotel, we waited for 1.5 hours until our night bus came to take us to Hanoi. More adventures to come shortly as we visit Ha Long Bay and Sapa! 

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