It's cold, well 24 degrees feels cold after 3 weeks of 30+
09.02.2012 - 12.02.2012 24 °C
It is becoming increasingly apparent as we travel and plan that our RTW trip should in fact be called “Justin and Lynne’s amazing UNESCO collection journey.”
We took the train from Danang to Hue on seat61’s (www.seat61.com) recommendation and it didn’t disappoint. The train crept along the cliffs of the mountain coast with beautiful views down the steep green slopes to white sands and blue waters. We spent the evening in Hue having a stroll along the waterfront, eating at a lovely vegetarian restaurant and booking a tour for the next day.
Yes Lynne is asleep.
The morning of our first group tour dawned and we waited at the café for pickup to the boat (even though the terminal was only 8mins walk). Lynne was again very “excited” to see some scooters arrive to pick us up and a few death-defying moments later we were deposited on a Dragon Boat for our trip down the Perfume River to the Nguyen dynasty mausoleums. The Nguyen dynasty lasted nearly 150 years from 1802 to 1945 and with all good emperors/ kings they had a monstrously inflated idea of their own importance and had serious building sprees. Such is the strange amalgamation of Vietnam religion their temples, palaces and mausoleums are a mix of classic Chinese tradition, Buddhism, animism and even Catholicism.
Our favorite was Minh Mang tomb. It had a beautiful symmetry and serenity:
Second place went to Tu Duc with its stunning setting of man-made forest and island in lake:
And in last place of the three (3/8) we visited was the strange Khai Dinh. As the last, gambling and alcoholic king with a penchant for French culture his was a bizarre temple complex in concrete.
Our second and last day in Hue was spent walking around the Hue citadel and Imperial City. However first thing in the morning I had to check the Tottenham score. 5-0 to the Lillywhites. Bosh. And Chelsea lost. A good morning indeed.
The citadel was built with the help of the French and boasts impressive 3m walls - a serious defensive structure. The Americans got caught napping by the Viet Khong with the Tet offensive and got swiftly pushed out of the citadel they were holding. The ensuing battle to reclaim it took its predictable toll on the Imperial Palace and Hue as a whole. Large parts are still just empty plots with some of the remaining building showing the scares of bullet holes.
However it is still a beautiful structure. Much like Beijing’s forbidden palace in lay out but not as well preserved. The moss, mildew and dilapidated state lend an Indian Jones quality that we know the writer likes. Remote corners were lovely only spoilt slightly by the Vietnamese karaoke whining (really at 11am!!!!).
With the wife very happy with a belly full of KFC chips we are beginning the next mega train journey. This time a little 12 hour hop north to the capital Hanoi and our gateway to Sapa and Halong Bay. Bring on the next UNESCO site!
STUPID THINGS TRAVELLERS SAY:
As we enter our fourth week Lynne has had a few blonde moments but no real howlers. Our orator this week is obviously travelling SE Asia with the sole aim of fulfilling his countries stereotype. Our overweight American tourist pronounced very clearly in the middle of a temple that, “Vietnam monks are boring, they have their hair at the back tied up but the Thai ones are much more colorful”. I hope the monks could not understand rather than being too polite to show recognition.