We spent a beautiful day visiting royal Hue. After many days of clouds and constant rain, our spirits were instantly lifted as we awakened to bright sunlight and blue skies.
Hue was Vietnam’s political capital from 1802 to 1945 under the reign of 13 emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty and unfortunately the site of some of the bloodiest battles of the 1968 Tet offensive (the war in Vietnam).
We ventured into the countryside to visit two royal tombs of the 2nd and 12th emperor. The majestic, serene and simple tomb of TU DUC is set amid lovely gardens, pine groves and lakes in contrast to the grandiose tomb of Khai Dinh. It represents the later decline of the Vietnamese monarchy under the French. In fact the 13th emperor died in exile in France.
Fanciful lanterns and dragons grace the various tomb pavilions.
In the countryside we also stopped to see the making of colorful incense sticks by hand and for which Hue is famous. The air was redolent with the smells of cinnamon and other spices.
The visit to royal Hue was completed inside the moated Citadel, which formally housed the Royal Palace, including the Forbidden Purple City. It is huge and sits on the major water artery in Hue, the Perfume River. Unfortunately much of the complex was severely damaged during the Vietnam war and one can see bomb damage and bullet holes in many of the walls. It is being painstakingly restored under Unesco.
We were fortunate that a troupe of musicians playing the old Royal instruments in full regalia were giving a performance as we entered the complex.
Our visit to Hue ended with a visit to the Dong Ba central market. A massive complex selling exotic fruits and vegetables, traditional Hue clothing, and the iconic Vietnamese conical hats.
Tomorrow we leave early for Saigon where we will ring in 2015.
Adios till next time!!