The Imperial City
Trip Start Oct 15, 2010
27Trip End Jan 11, 2011
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I've never heard of anyone who has experienced good weather in Hue and our time there was no exception. Armed with umbrellas we made our way across the river to city's primary attraction: the citadel built by Emperor Gia Long, beginning in 1803. This consists of a square of city enclosed behind a moat and a tall, thick, 10km long wall. Inside, behind another wall forming the shape of a square (2.5km circumference) is the Imperial Enclosure
Hue was came under heavy rocket fire and bombing during the American War and the vast majority of the buildings in the citadel were destroyed. A restoration process is underway but it's a huge job so progress is slow. As a result we didn't expect much from the citadel and were surprised by the beauty of the spaces and buildings that are in tact. These were different from anything we have seen on our trip so far, thanks to the Chinese influenced architecture. Those parts of the enclosure yet to be restored were also beautiful, if a little eerie. We found it wonderfully peaceful to spend a couple of hours strolling around the striking, overgrown ruins.
For lunch we headed to Lac Thanh Restaurant, a simple eatery just outside the citadel that Santiago, our friend from the Hoi An cooking class, had recommended. The imperial city of Hue is known as a food destination and we were keen to sample some of the local specialties. The most interesting of these was called 'shrimp and meat wrapped in banana leaves with sticky rice'
By our preferred pace two nights in a town is not a lot, but we found we managed to see what we wanted of Hue in that time. Although the town itself is not terribly attractive, it's worth a stop to see the citadel and taste the local food, once you find the authentic stuff. Our visit was a somewhat clouded by Nathan's ongoing tummy troubles, which were not terribly severe but had been dragging on since we were in the Central Highlands. I was pleased that, when I put my foot down, he finally agreed to see a doctor on arrival in Hanoi the following day.