We left Halong Bay feeling much more relaxed and at ease with Vietnam. Hanoi had been a rough introduction with its teaming masses of humanity and incessant honking. However, after spending three days out in the bay or feet were beginging to itch for new adventure and so we made our way to Hue via an overnight bus.
Why don’t we have these back home?!? Total cost for a 12 hour overnight bus was $3.50. We bought some sleeping pills at the local pharmacy to facility sleep which was a good idea. the bus ride was incredibly bumpy as Vietnam seems to have no really freeways to speak of. Stop and go for 12 hours on rough and tumble roads. Also, our driver seemed to have a weaker bladder than us and liked to turn the interior lights of the bus on whenever he made a stop!
Our destination was Hue near the center of the country. Hue had been the capital city before Hanoi and was the seat of power of the emperor in the 17th and 18th centuries. Hue is well know for its awesome architecture but also for its destruction. Because of its central location the city was very near to the north/south Vietnamese border during the war and was often the target of US carpet bombings. During the Tet Offensive Hue was also the sight of the Hue Massacre carried out by the communists.
The first photos in the slide show are from the Citadel which served both as the royal palace and capital compound. The entire walled area is huge and was once quite full of buildings. What remains, while beautiful, is only a small portion of what used to be. The inner-sanctum of the Citadel is the Forbidden Purple City. This is a large walled area where anyone who was not the king, a concubine, or a castrated male servant, were not allowed.
While we didn’t run across any concubines we did happen upon a feral elephant… Vietnam is weird, did I mention that?
The Citadel took up most of our day but we did manage to go see one of the many tombs that are located around the far flung city. This tomb was one of the largest ones and an UNESCO world heritage site. Many of the tombs predate the Citadel by several hundred years.
We got our first of many motorcycle taxis to take us across the city. Andrew was too scared to take his hands off the bike but I eventually became pretty comfortable enough to take out my camera and snap some pictures.
I will never get tired of this countries food! We had the most amazing breakfast of the trip at a little cafe on the side of the road, if you could call it a cafe. I doubt that a single restaurant I ate at while in SE Asia would pass an American sanitary inspection but hot-damn it was tasty! And cheap as hell I might add, perhaps those two things are related? Lunch came in at $0.50 while our stand-out breakfast set us back $1.25 each with coffee and extra helpings of bread.