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Sunday, September 9, 2012

And a Hue we go! (See what I did there???)

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Vietnam so we took advantage and made a flying trip up to Hue.  It had never really been high on our must do list while we were here as it always seemed to be in second place behind places like Halong Bay, Hoian, Nha Trang etc. Only a quick one hour flight from HCMC it was perfect for just a 2 night visit.  Hue was the capital of Vietnam from the beginning of  the 19th century until 1945.  It is a stunning ancient city with some amazing buildings including the Citadel that used to house the emperor, his wife and often his hundreds of back up wives.  Hue is also very proud that Ho Chi Minh was educated here.  Unfortunately not all of the things Hue is famous for are fabulous.  In 1968 it was also the site of one of the major battles of the infamous Tet Offensive and many of the buildings were very badly damaged or destroyed during the month long battle.
Having left it so late to book these were the only seats left.  Not nearly as extravagant as it sounds, the prices are still pretty reasonable....and we needed the leg room.
.....actually, I can't back that up.

Our home for 2 nights was the very tranquil La Residence Hotel.
With stunning views over the Perfume River it was a beautiful property.
Usually travel within Vietnam on long weekends is horrendously busy.  I don't know where everyone went this holiday but it wasn't to Hue.  The place was nearly deserted.

With not too much planned for day one we just hung out at the pool.

Seriously, I think she is half mermaid.
The kids made a new friend.

The weather was overcast, drizzly but still pretty hot.  Not bad weather for exploring we thought.
These fantastic boats can take you along the Perfume River.  Apparently in Autumn flowers from the orchids upsteam fall into the river giving it a perfume like aroma.  Being the cynic that I am, I find it hard to believe that any river in Vietnam can smell like perfume but it is a nice story none the less.

This is the Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the river.  It was built in 1601 and has its roots in local legend.  Apparently an old woman appeared on the hill and said that the Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country's prosperity. Hearing this Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda of the "Heavenly Lady" (Thien Mu)

Phuoc Dien Tower has seven levels as 7 is an extremely lucky number in Buddhism.  

Fearsome temple guardian.

One of my favourite parts of the trip.  When you say your prayer to Buddha this lovely monk waits until you finish then hits the bell to signal to Buddha that your prayer is on the way.

One of the more bizarre things within the temple and not what I was expecting to see!

This is the Austin car that you can see in the background of that very famous photo of the Buddhist monk who drove from Hue to Saigon, got out of the car and set himself alight in protest of the anti-buddhist stance of the South Vietnamese government. 
Here is the photo in question.  This was made all the more poignant as the photographer passed away just this week.

Monkeying around.

Our next adventure took us to the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. It was built in 1864-67 for Tu Duc who was the longest serving Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1848-83)  Interestingly, although he had hundreds of wives he never produced any children.  Do you think it might have been him?

The Emperor actually lived here during his reign.  It is a huge area and he could punt on the lake or go hunting within the grounds.

There was actually a coup attempted during the construction as it's construction was so elaborate that the people had to pay extra taxes and it was pretty much forced labour.

The colours are just amazing.  It's very hard to try to get a photo that does it justice.

This is his wife's tomb.

Now here's the thing.  After all of that, the guy is not even buried here!  He was buried in a secret location and to this day no one knows where it is.  The 200 labourers who buried him were beheaded on their return.

Incense is big business in this area.  What a stunning way to display your wares.

We then went to visit the enormous Citadel.  This is the flag tower near the entrance.  You can just make out Quiddy going crazy with such wide open spaces where you can RUN!

During the Tet Offensive in 1968 a lot of the fighting was concentrated around the Citadel and you can see remnants of it today.

That Sir, is a lovely handbag.  Work it baby!

Within the Citadel itself is another smaller Citadel called the Imperial Enclosure or the Forbidden Purple City.  You could spend hours wandering around exploring.

Right next door is a military exhibit which is worth a look.

The kids got a buzz out of clambering over the tanks.

It was Fathers Day in Australia so we had a lovely lunch at Vuon Thao Garden.

We of course had to try the local brew.  Not too bad.

All in all I would definitely say that Hue is worth a visit.  It was a tad challenging with the kids as they get templed out quite quickly but there are enough things for them to climb on to keep them happy.  If you wanted to extend the trip you could drive the beautiful Hai Van pass through the mountains and visit Hoian which is not far away.

1 comment:

  1. Good story and fun pics! Like the caption on Business Call Flight photo where you all needed more leg room :)


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