Hue (20km, 12mi). After an overnight train we disembark in Hue and take a bicycle tour of the city – a city of history.
Points of interest: Old capital of Vietnam from 1802-1945 (Unesco World Heritage Sites), Citadel, Imperial Palace, Thien Mu Pagoda, Sake Factory, Tu Duc Tomb.
|Trackside at Hue train station. The architecture not as distinctive as some rail stations in the world.|
|Nifty dinner are served on the train. The compartment has soft bunks and is air-conditioned. On our trip you could set your watch by the departure and the arrival was only a couple minutes late.|
|Hue straddles the Perfume River. The picture on the left looks north across the river towards the Citadel. A lot of the south bank (new town side) in the center of town is a park with non-motorized promenades. One of the features of the riverside park is a sculpture garden (right).|
|More roof tops of Hue.|
|Another attraction on the river -- for tourist at least -- is boat rides (right). There were dozens of wide air-conditioned boats scattered along the river waiting for tourists with touts on shore trying to sell the trips. Capacity seems to exceed demand.|
|The old walled city is called the Citadel. The Viet Cong held the Citadel for 27 days after Tet, in 1968. Within the Citadel is the Imperial Palace. Once it was forbidden for most commoners to enter, but now it is open for tours.|
|The Forbidden Purple Palace once had over 100 buildings and palaces. It got its name because the concubines painted the harem purple. Separate walkways and gates for military, King and mandarins. Has the palaces for the emperor’s personal use, a completely isolated world from which commoners were forbidden. The emperor sat in his elevated throne for official receptions and important court ceremonies.|
Temple roof detail, gates and urn.
|Two-wheel-only bridges across the Perfume River. Of course we have a bias to bicycle-only bridges. These two are halfway there -- banning cars, trucks and buses -- but motorcycles are allowed|
|Thien Mu Pagoda. The irony of such a lovely meditative place is it is where the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc set out from, in 1963, when he drove to Saigon to immolate himself in protest to the treatment of Buddhist by the then government. The car was brought back is on exhibition at the monastery.|
|Thien Mu Pagoda bell (left). Turtle with commemorative stele on its back, with the history of the temple and important monks (right).|
|The largest temple had several ornate alters, statues for ancestors and a large area for prayer and meditation.|
|Around the grounds were lawns, paths, planted beds and a smaller pagoda (left.) Behind the main temple is a patio of bonsai potted trees (right) -- a bonsai garden. Some of the dwarf trees looked like they were hundreds of years old.|
|A monk using a weed-whacker to trim the grass. I thought a lot about this image and keep thinking that there must be a more spiritual / in-harmony-with-nature way to do the task, but in the end all that needs to be accomplished is to keep the grass at bay and the weed-whacker serves the purpose.|
|An incense maker demonstrates her craft and then encourages visitors to buy some to the product. Actually, her daughter gives the hardest sell.|
|The tomb of Emperor Tu Duc was constructed from 1864-1987 and served as a second imperial city where the emperor, who reigned from 1848-1883, came for relief from national and household concerns. The emperor's contemplative nature and poetic spirit was reflected in the landscape and arrangement of the 50 buildings.. The tomb complex is divided into two main areas: the ritual and the burial. The tombs of Empress Le Thien Anh and Emperor Kien Pulc, who briefly ruled in 1884, are also located inside the wall of the cmplex.|
|Xung Khiem Pavalion is still perched on the edge of the lake.|
|This is part of a complex of buildings described as the ritual or worshiping area. This is where the Emperor would spend time during his visits. In addition to still having shrines and alter, parts of it has now been converted into a performance space and souvenir shop.|
|Stele pavilion is part of the burial area of the Tuc Duc tomb complex. This area is said to represent the after life. The environment and buildings mirror the mundane world.|
|Statues of an elephant and horse, and warriors, in the honor court in the burial area of the Tuc Duc Tomb. The mandarins await orders.|
|Empress Le Thien Anh tomb|
|Wall enclosing Empress's sepulture (right).|
|Typical of visitors, this family was lining up for a family photo. Most of the visitors we saw at this site were Vietnamese, but it might have only been because we and they were ahead of the tourist buses.|
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