Today we had a full day in Hue, a city that has a very cute town centre, but is especially famous because of the forbidden city/purple palace that is there. Today we were visiting that palace and it was very beautiful. I have been to the Chinese Forbidden Palace before and this was slightly like it, but obviously it had some very huge differences. The biggest difference definitely is that the Hue buildings are almost all destroyed by the Americans during the Vietnamese/American war.
It was very sad to see all that beautiful culture and those beautiful temple-like buildings to be destroyed like that, thankfully not all was gone. The golden chair the emperor used to sit on was still there, there were some old canons that were still there (they have not even been used in any war, just to tell the people if the emperor’s wife had a son or a daughter) and the gate to let women in was still there and a bunch of other stuff. Please take a look at the pictures I shot there, there are a lot of them in this article.
Our guide told us about the 13th Emperor, how Vietnamese people think 13 is an unlucky number and how much the number 13 was connected to this indeed very unfortunate man. He was called Bảo Đại, which is a Vietnamese name for ‘Keeper of Greatness’.
He had to step down from his role very soon after he started, because Ho Chi Minh took over. People were frustrated with him because he was too close to the French people and because he spend way too much time hunting in the mountains instead of leading the country.
He was the last one of the Nguyen dynasty and with that the last Emperor that Vietnam had. Many emperors and people here have the last name Nguyen, and it is funny to me because I used to have a friend called Nguyen.
Apparently I totally pronounced his name wrong all this time. Anyway, this 13th emperor had a very unfortunate life, which was probably directed very much by the many wars his country had to deal with during the 20th century and before that.
They did keep the place very neat, with a lot of beautiful plants and flowers, and thankfully they are trying to rebuild the things that were lost in the war. Tourists that did not fancy walking all the way, could be in a horse carriage with a very small pony in front of it, or take a little bus that looked like it had a smiley face (I love it when car companies do that, even if it is a bit subtle!).
After that, the trip to me got really interesting, as we went to a Buddhist temple. It is the temple where the monk used to go that burned himself alive to protest the way Buddhists were treated, many years back. His car, which he used to drive to the place where he would light himself on fire, was standing there in a little garage, together with the picture of him burning. It really made an impression.
His car, which he used to drive to the place where he would light himself on fire, was standing there in a little garage, together with the picture of him burning. It really made an impression. Of course when I used to have history classes in school, they told me about this very unfortunate but yet strong thing the monk had done, and then it was already very shocking. But to see that specific car in real life, it stuck with me for quite a while.
What was very memorable to me too, is that we were there to see a ritual done by the Buddhist monks in the gorgeous temple. There were birds and they were setting them free. It felt like a big honor to be part of that. It is amazing how peaceful temples make me feel.
They just feel so holy to me, even though I do not particularly consider myself a Buddhist. I do want to try to use more incense and have a bit more of that ‘temple spirit’ at home, so who knows. But it was very beautiful today to see the monks do their rituals, singing the words to the songs and setting free many birds of which a few ended up in my hair.
The place was so lovely, I could have stayed there for so much longer if it was not so hot outside. I cannot believe it is winter in Vietnam, because it is still so hot outside! Obviously this is a humidity thing too, as that makes the warmth feel even hotter. But they had a these lovely Bonsai trees to look at, with small props like you see below:
After the temple we went on the Perfume river by boat. As I have mentioned before, boat trips are not really euhm, floating my boat 😉 Especially this one was super boring, as there was no information given, so we were just sitting on this funny dragon boat that was just going very slowly over this very nice Perfume river.
I was not sure if the river really smelled that nice, or that I was just thinking it was because of the name (and the fact that it was called this way because it is such clean water from the mountains). It was sooo boring, and there was this girl selling merchandise, which made it feel even more like we were just put on a floating souvenir shop.
After the trip with the boat, we had lunch at this very nice restaurant called Ushi. It was a pretty funny name, as we have the show Ushi and Van Dijk on tv in the Netherlands and the lady seemed to look like the owner of the restaurant. The food was really good and I really liked the presentation.
After the yummy lunch it was time to grab our bicycles, because we were going to cycle to the town, past the rice fields, which was amazing. Sometimes I cursed a bit at the wind, which is pretty standard for me as I would do that same thing if I was in my home country The Netherlands, where there are more bicycles than people. But it was really nice to do something more active that did not involve walking. I petted some of the super cute Vietnamese Bambi-like cows.
As you might see it was a very busy day, starting off at 8 ‘o clock in the morning, until 4:30 in the afternoon. Which means some people were going swimming, but I was typing a few journal entries for this blog right here as I was behind a bit! (hi hi busted!) Anyway, we went out to dinner in Hue at this very nice French style house, in a restaurant called Le Jardins de Carambole. It was really good food, a very stylish place and we really enjoyed ourselves.
Specifically because the taxi’s in Vietnam are very cheap. The Netherlands are famous for their crazy expensive taxi’s, but in Vietnam you can take a cab for 10 minutes and only pay 2 euros. So we went to and from the restaurant in a cab which was very nice, as our hotel is about 45 minutes walking from the city centre of Hue. Our hotel is pretty nice, the Green Hotel, although I do not really like the breakfast, I do think the rooms are pretty okay. The furniture is all rotan, which gives it that tiki-island kinda feeling, pretty cool! Good night.