Sorry, could never resist a pun. Oh, and stop groaning I can hear you from here!
We left early morning by car from Da Nang onto the city of Hue (pronounced “way). This was a longish drive, which Sandy had already endured two days prior on her trek to join me. We took the scenic route which took us up to the peak of a mountain where an old US watch station was and got to see some great vistas of the ocean. As we approached the town, we took detours to see the tombs of some of the Vietnamese kings. This was well timed, as both Sandy and I were feeling the effects of the road. The conditions of these roads are marginal, riddled with pot holes. It also seems that Vietnamese drivers like to view driving as a video game, where one goes as fast as he can while narrowly avoiding obstacles. This makes for a jerky ride, which can test the strongest of stomachs. Neither of us were in danger of feeling sick, but had the ride lasted a lot longer, we might have been in trouble.
Vietnam had been heavily influenced by China in the beginning, and the by the French toward the end. It was quite fascinating to see how the kings built their mausoleums accordingly. All were very much into Feng Shui, so each tomb was placed in very beautiful surroundings with lots of water and mountains. The last king, built his tomb so that it resembled an Asian Chateau on a mountain’s edge. Elaborate stone carvings decorating all the structures. Sandy and I were left at our great hotel in downtown Hue, and we explored the streets a bit in the evening, and eating a nice seafood dinner across the way from our hotel.
The next morning we boarded a very thematic, yet cool dragon boat and motored up the Perfume river toward a Buddhist temple. Along the way we saw river people, who live and work on their boats. Most are sand barges that are filled to an impossible limit of sand to be carried off to concrete manufacturers. These people eek out a living, always on the edge of disaster, but overall they seem happy and peaceful. The temple is set on the side of the river with a seven-tiered pagoda welcoming travelers. We also get a chance to visit the royal palace, that belonged to the kings. This was modeled after the Chinese, with a Forbidden Palace and several gates and walls. The war had devastated the innermost portion of the palace, but the rest is visitable, and quite beautiful. Sandy and I had fun taking pictures of all the urns, buildings, and British Phone booth structures (used to protect some old statues of dragons, but maybe they really wanted to call home). We visited the market after lunch where we had fun seeing all the items one can buy if the vendors are awake. Yes, it does seem that there is a siesta culture here too 😉