28 August 2014

A short stay in Hue, Vietnam

With only 25 hours in Hue, it was always going to be a fleeting glance. And after Hoi An I knew that a glance is all I would want, as anything would be less beautiful, less phenomenal and just less when comparisons were made.

Considering Hue is the ancient capital, the new town is not dissimilar to Hi Chin Minh - a modern developing urban area. There are high rise hotels, tourist restaurants, cyclos and scams a plenty.
The suggested activity for the town was a motorbike tour of the city and the outer lying areas. It seems from Lonely Planet that motorbike tours are the norm in Hue, as a lot of the sites are located around the perimeter of the city and within the vast Citadel complex. Our was $20/400,000 dong which seems to be average pricing, though I wouldn't necessarily say our was that outstanding - so have a look around yourself.
The motorbike tour took us through the paddy fields, to a local village, to a bunker, a museum of rice, a stadium and to a pagoda... Oh and a shop to buy gifts of course.
An action selfie from the bike - see I'm ok mum?...

The Stadium

After biking through a graveyard and a small village where small children delightfully told us to "Fuck Off" as we passed through, before arriving at a stadium. The stadium was used to fight tigers and elephants. With elephants representing royalty and tigers the rebels, the tigers were tied to the centre of the stadium an so ultimately the elephant and therefore royalty always won!

The Paddy Fields

Queens Tomb

An emperor could have as many queens as he wanted. Soooo there was 1 emperor and 100 queens - "He was a busy guy" our guide informs us. Each queen had a tomb built around the city, so there are plenty to choose from. We went to a less well-known tomb, as we had access on our bikes.
According to feng shui, the higher the tower the better, and a tomb facing water is also preferable. Each of the 100 queens has a tomb, so there are dozens of them around the city of Hue.
The emperor had 147 children... Imagine Christmas?


Thien Mu Pagoda

Although 7 stories and the tallest religious building in Vietnam, the actual structure isn't quite as grand as the title it holds. That said it's a lovely place and perfect for a later afternoon trip, which gives you a beautiful light.

The Asian tourists took pictures with us for 20 minutes.
... And we took some awkward family photos.
The beards on these guys are made from plastic hair, unfortunately. I liked to imagine that it was made out of the monks hair.
This guy is doing the 'girl-in-the-club' finger Uh uh errrrrr.
Brilliant photobomb right there... We were none-the-wiser.
The monks playing football.
If you can make out the story of this monk - Thích Quảng Đức - (under where it says "a relic") it's worth a read. He burned himself to death in 1963 in order to try and achieve religious equality, as promised by the government. On a cheerier note it looks like the Chamber of Secrets car.

The Local Village/Rice Demonstation

This part of the tour felt a little bit cheeky to me. We went to look round this local village and a sweet lady demonstrated how they make rice, and other aspects of traditional village life, then of course, a basket was wafted around for tips. We get to the bridge for a group shot and then one lady does fortune telling for Tom... And then demands $1/20,000 dong. It was pretty but I wasn't prepared for this and was glad I grabbed a few spare notes last minute. It left a bitter taste in my mouth as we had no heads up about this and already paid a set amount for the tour. At first I thought I had left a 100,000 note for as a tip - that's 10 beers (!!!) - but luckily I left a smaller amount. Here are a few photos anyhow...

This is a pillow. No joke.

Pretending to whip the buffalo.
The fiesty fortune teller. Apparently Tom may have 2 OR 4 children and live a long life of 82 years. Pretty sure there was something about a girlfriend in there too.

The Fort

Our guide took us up to a fort to have a little snoop and it reminded me of the ones we used to explore as children in Guernsey.
The real selling point though, is the view over the Perfume River.

Making Incense

We also stopped to 'buy souvenirs' and watch how incense was made. 

So that was the motorbike tour. A good way to see some of the city fast and also support the local community, even if tact isn't their middle name. 

Citadel

The Citadel is the main reason why people go to Hue, although it wasn't anything that I'll be talking about for years to come.
The complex is absolutely massive, meaning there are actually golf buggies throughout the day that take you to different areas of the site.

We only had a morning, so looked at the immediate building and the surrounding area.

The moat itself is very pretty with waterlilies coating the water like a blanket in areas.
It's worth a look if you happen to be stopping over in Hue, but I wouldn't say you're missing out unless you have a particular interest in seeing it and you know the history and context. To really get the most out of it do your research, allow an entire day and take precautions against the heat.


Don't be mugged off - the tuk tuk drivers are pretty persuasive in telling you that the citadel is closed and offering a tour until it opens again in an hour or two.


What else did people get up to in Hue?


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