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Vietnam flagPhoto essay:
Vietnam Bicycle Tour: Imperial Roots (Central)

   

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.

Reunification Express, Vietnam railroad
  Hue train station Trackside at Hue train station.  The architecture not as distinctive as some rail stations in the world. Hue train station
  Vietnam train passenger compartment 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 and Perfume River.  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). sculpture garden, Hue
  roof tops of Hue roof tops of HueMore roof tops of Hue. roof tops of Hue
   Perfume River, 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. Tourist boat, Perfume River, Hue
  Within the Citadel is the Imperial Palace 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. Gate to Citadel, Forbidden Purple City, Hue
  Supreme Harmony Palace, Hue 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, Forbidden City, Hue
  Temple, Imperial Palace, Hue

Roof detail, temple, Imperial Palace, Hue

Gate, Imperial Palace, Hue Gate, Imperial Palace, Hue
Temple roof detail, gates and urn.
Dynastic Urn, Imperial Palace, Hue
  Two-wheel-only bridges across the Perfume River. 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 Two-wheel-only bridges across the Perfume River.
   Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue Thien Mu Pagoda.  The irony of such a lovely meditative place is it is where the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc carset 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
  Thien Mu Pagoda bell Thien Mu Pagoda bell (left). Turtle with commemorative stele on its back, with the history of the temple and important monks (right). Turtle with commemorative stele
  ornate alters in large temple The largest temple had several ornate alters,  statues for ancestors and a large area for prayer and meditation. statues for ancestors
  smaller pagoda 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. bonsai potted trees
  monk using a weed-whacker 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.  
  incense maker demonstrates her craft An incense maker demonstrates her craft and then encourages visitors to buy some to the product.  Actually, her daughter gives the hardest sell. incense maker demonstrates her craft
  tomb of Emperor Tu Duc 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 Xung Khiem Pavalion is still perched on the edge of the lake. Xung Khiem Pavalion
  ritual or worshiping area 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. roof detail
  Stele pavilion is part of the burial area of the Tuc Duc tomb complex. 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. Tomb, Emperor Tu Duc
  Statues of an elephant and horse, and warriors 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. Statues of an elephant and horse, and warriors
  Empress Le Thien Anh tomb Empress Le Thien Anh tomb Empress Le Thien Anh tomb
  Wall enclosing Empress's sepulture Wall enclosing Empress's sepulture (right).  
  family photo 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.  
   
 

Return to Saigon Continue to Lang Co

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