Being the history buff that I am, I couldn't tolerate the thought of not visiting the ancient city of Hue since we're in Danang. It would be like vacationing in Bali without visiting the famed Tanah Lot Temple (an inside joke). Thus our next adventure found us with a private guide in the luxury of a Toyota MPV on the way to Hue. Surprisingly, I found the sights on the way far more mesmerizing than the city itself. Check them out.
|Beautiful beach and cove. Currently inhabited by a colony of outcast lepers. Unfortunately for them, it has been sold to some MNC to build resorts.|
|Ancient fortification high atop Hai Vin Pass. In turn used by the Imperial Vietnamese, French, Americans and Communists. Now left to ruin.|
|View atop Hai Vin Pass, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the horizon.|
|Lan Co Bay, voted one of the most beautiful in the world. A Christian village amidst a Buddhist-dominated country.|
|Oyster Farm at Lan Co. Reminiscent of Europe. If only the weather was cooler.|
|Fresh Oysters anyone? US$4 for 1 kg.|
|Entering the Imperial Citadel of Hue - in style!|
The tour included an authentic Hue meal. The restaurant was converted from the bungalow of a former Hue Imperial Official. The tastes and smells were very similar to Chinese cooking. Chinese influence is very prevalent in this part of the country. The former royals wrote and spoke Chinese. It was the French that gave English alphabets to represent the Chinese characters that the Vietnamese used. In a sense, Vietnamese can be considered a dialect of Chinese.
The wifey, who has been to the Forbidden City in Beijing, mentioned that the Hue Imperial Palace was almost an exact copy of the one in Beijing. Even the names of the various halls were similar.
The last stop was an elaborate mausoleum of the Vietnamese Emperor Khai Dinh. He was extravagant in both life and death, loved gambling and the show of ostentatious wealth.In fact he was merely a puppet of the French. His tomb took 11 years to complete, a superbly long time, even for ancient standards. Reflecting both European and Chinese influence, the tomb was grand on the outside. But the inside blew me away. Unfortunately, the ever law-abiding wifey didn't take any photos because she thought it was allowed.