Hue is an amazingly beautiful city – not only does it seem to have a slower pace than other cities in Asia, but the river right through the middle provides a centrepiece to the parks and shady side roads. Outside of the city, amongst the hills and paddy fields, are tombs of the previous Emperor rulers of the province, and last night we’d negotiated a boat trip to visit one of them. A ticket in the tour group costs just $2, but they visit half a dozen tombs, and we knew that the girls would be less interested in yet-another-tomb, so we hired a boat to ourselves for the morning, for $10.
After an hour and a half boat trip, and a ride from the river bank through the paddy fields on the back of a motorbike, we arrived at the tomb, in the middle of nowhere. After handing over our $4 entry fee (beside a sign that said “Foreigners $4; Vietnamese $1”) we walked through the walls and took in the beauty of the mausoleum. The Emperors in Vietnam obviously had significant wealth and power, because this tomb has two lakes, a river, three temples, various meeting rooms, and bedrooms for the king, his 102 wives and his concubines (try explaining what a concubine is to a modern child!). The building on the left is just one of over 30 buildings on the site, all reeking of wealth. The only thing missing, in fact, from this tomb is a body! The Emperor was buried in great secrecy, somewhere around the area, but because the 200 servants that buried him were immediately beheaded, nobody has been able to find the body, and as importantly the treasure buried with it.
Just like everywhere else in Vietnam, it was the girls that turned out to be a bit of tourist attraction themselves. Every few yards they were slowed down by Vietnamese women, who wanted to touch and talk to them. Although its nice for them to receive so much attention, they do find it a bit annoying at times – especially when we’re all trying to look around ourselves.
Time to make this diary a bit more interactive with a challenge.
Here’s two pictures (above) from the next place we went to, Thien Mu Pagoda. I’ll send a Ho Chi Minh T-shirt to the person that emails us with the reason I took a picture of a car, and the name of the monk. Start your search here.
As at lunchtime on the 12th, lots of people have told me the answer to part 1, but nobody has given me the correct answer to part 2 – its more than ‘because the car was in the background of the photo’.
After lunch, and a sleep for Emily, we spent the late afternoon wandering the streets, just seeing normal every day life in the city. The streets are packed full of adults on mopeds, and school children on bicycles, all rushing in different directions at the same time. I know I’ve said it before, but it really is chaos on the roads here. When we first arrived, an American said jokingly “Now I’ve been in Vietnam for two weeks, I can cross the road without crying”. It was a joke, but only just!