Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hue - Imperial Capital of Vietnam

The next stop on our south-to-north journey through Vietnam was Hue, the former imperial capital before the monarchy was abolished to make way for Ho Chi Minh's communist revolution in 1945. It has a rich past and was once home to hundreds of historic buildings and artefacts, though most of these were unfortunately destroyed during the Vietnam War. There remain, however, numerous tombs and a huge citadel that continue to draw tourists to the city.

Of the eight or so places that we stopped at in Vietnam, Hue was probably the only one that we didn't particularly care for. For one thing, Vietnam's notorious level of scamming and pushiness seems to get worse the further north you go, and it seemed particularly bad here, with tuk-tuk drivers following us down the street and pestering us even after we'd told them a dozen times that we just wanted to walk. We also couldn't really get in the mood for the local sights. The citadel has some pretty areas but due to the devastation of the war most of it is rubble. The city council is gradually rebuilding it so it can one day rival places like the Forbidden City in Beijing, but for now it leaves a lot to be desired. We ended up skipping the tombs altogether since our ferry driver tried to scam us and we were so hot and sweaty and just not feeling it anymore.

There was something else that put a damper on our time in Hue as well. While we were there, Angela found out that her dog back home in the states, Boh-Boh, had passed away. Angela had helped buy Boh-Boh as a puppy, named her, and watched her grow old, so understandably they had a very strong bond, and it was very saddening to hear of her passing.

This was a screenshot of a recent skype conversation we had with Angela's parents and Boh-Boh before she passed away. Poor little pooch. Boh-Boh, you'll be sorely missed.
Our route north from Hoi An to Hue. It looks short but it took four or five hours.
We arrived in Hue in the late afternoon, basing ourselves in the new part of the city.

Our hotel room was presented with flower petals on the bed.
For lunch I had Tom Su Xao Rau: sauteed tiger shrimps with mixed vegetables and rice.
During the evening we went for a walk along the brightly-lit Perfume River.
At the night market.

Having a "Hue" beer in the evening.
The next morning we continued exploring the city, passing some interesting monuments and sculptures.

A meme-based cafe.
Crossing the Perfume River to reach the old city.

The outer walls of the Citadel.

We spent some time wandering around the Citadel, which had some rather pretty halls, gardens and pavilions, though we were not in the best mood to enjoy them.

We briefly took a long boat down the river to see the tombs, but cancelled the trip after our boatsman tried to scam us.

It's a pity we couldn't enjoy this city more. Looking back at these pictures, Hue doesn't seem like it's all that bad a place, and I wouldn't want to dissuade people from going there altogether. We just weren't feeling it at the time, and the heat and pushiness, among other things, prevented us from giving it full appreciation. Fortunately, we had a much better time as we continued north to our final stop in Vietnam: the capital city, Hanoi. It was even hotter there, and the locals just as pushy, but our moods were improved and it was Angela's birthday, which we'll be celebrating in the next blog post.

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