Hue City Tour
Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
181Trip End Jul 23, 2013
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'Bob' our Vietnamese Tour Guide informed us of the schedule once we were on the bus. We were going to be taken to seven different places, have lunch and have a ride on a Dragon Boat. The day seemed hectic before we had even started.
Our first stop was at a small village where the inhabitants made Incense Sticks and Conical Hats. The Incense Stick demonstration was interesting and Bob spoke very good English. I thought we were also going to get a demonstration of how the Conical Hats were made, but this did not happen. All the same, I liked the simpleness of the Conical Hat and seriously contemplated a purchase, but managed to talk myself out of it
We only spent a short time at the village then boarded the bus for the next place; Emperor
Tu Duc's Tomb. Emperor Tu Doc was the fourth Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. His tomb was built from 1864 to 1867. He selected the site and designed the whole complex himself. The tomb was finished when he was still in reign and he would often go there to chill out. The whole area is like a scenic park which has lakes, hills, pine forests and pavilions.
We left Tu Docs tomb after about 30 mins walking around. Bob had given strict orders for everyone to be back at the bus at an actual time but as usual, we had to wait for stragglers.
Our next stop was at Emperor Minh Mang's Tomb. Bob said he was the the second ruler of the Nguyễn Dynasty; he ruled southern and central Vietnam from 1820 to 1841. From the capital at Hué, he implemented an extensive building program, which included construction of his own funeral complex in the southwest corner of the city. The construction of Minh Mang's tomb was still incomplete upon his death, so it fell to his son and successor, Thieu Tri, to complete his final resting place
You could tell Bob really liked this Emperor as he closed his eyes many times when speaking about him. I think he would have liked to have been Ming Mang's son, and I bet if he was, he would have helped his Dad finish the tomb before he had passed away.
The last place we went to before stopping for lunch was Emperor Khải Định's Tomb. He ruled from 1916-1925 and chose a site on a slope of Chau Chu mountain, which is about 10 km from Hue. The construction of his tomb started on 1920 and lasted for 11 years. The architecture of this tomb is the most criticised of all the tombs of the Nguyen dynasty for its 'modern' architecture. The most noticeable characteristic of the tomb is the glassy and ceramic mosaics, a masterpiece of Vietnamese artisans early in the 20th century.
I actually thought the Tomb was OK, in fact I preferred it to the other two, but you could tell by Bob's face and his tone of voice, that he wasn't impressed. Although young, Bob seemed a traditionalist and like many others, viewed this site as a symbol of the decline of Vietnamese culture during the colonial era. I decided to pretend I didn't like it either; just in case my opposing opinion impacted somehow on the free lunch.
We stopped at a traditional Vietnamese cafe for a buffet lunch
After lunch we returned to the bus and visited Phuket Mong Garden House. To be honest, I'm not sure what we were doing there - I think this was just somebody's house, although Bob kept going on about 'perfect Feng Shui'
After the Garden House, we went to The Citadel. What is left standing after wars and general wear and tear is quite impressive. It was good to have learned about the Emperors in the morning, and imagine them ruling from this historic site.
After the Citadel, Bob took us to Thien Mu Pagoda; again, quite impressive, but by now the whole bus load were almost on their knees, in and out of buildings; up and down hundreds of steps in soaring heat takes its toll, so much so that an old couple that had been struggling to keep up with the itinerary decided to skip the Dragon Boat ride, the finale of the whole day, and catch the bus back to their hotel
Once back on shore we said goodbye to Bob and started to walk back to the Hotel. We were really knackered and felt tired and dirty. After freshening up we popped out to a nearby restaurant, The Caramel, for something to eat. I had a great meal but Terry said his was mediocre. We dragged ourselves back to the Hotel early and had an early night.
This holiday was really taking it out of us!