Monday, April 22, 2013

Hué, Vietnam

Our train from Ninh Binh to Hué.
Matt deciding what to do.
Hué's iconic citadel.
Inner walls and moat of the citadel.
Much of the citadel was destroyed during the Tet offensive in 1968. Some buildings remain and some are being restored.

Some sort of shelter within the citadel.

Thien Mu Pagoda, the tallest in Vietnam.

The car that the Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc was riding in Saigon before setting himself on fire. As seen in this pulitzer-prize winning photo. And the cover of Rage Against The Machine's album.

Our dragon boat.
Bree sips sugarcane juice on the side of the road.
Children actually reading in the bookstore.
If you know Matt, you know how excited he was when he saw this.
Assorted vegetarian versions of Vietnamese dishes for lunch.
We boarded the train in Ninh Binh, bound for Hué. Soft sleeper was unavailable so we went with hard sleeper, which is six berths per compartment as opposed to four. It would have been fine but the guy who had the bottom bunk (where people are supposed to sit during the day) decided he wanted to lay down for most of the journey. So that meant that our only option was to lay down in our upper bunks.  So the trip was mostly uncomfortable, but we've done worse. By around 6pm we arrived in Hué (pronounced hway).

Hué was the capitol city of the Nguyen dynasty until the end of WWII. It was also the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War, which eventually left about 80% of the city destroyed. If you've ever seen Full Metal Jacket, the battle of Hué is where most of the fighting in that film takes place.

With the exception of the crumbled remains of most of the buildings within the citadel walls, you don't really get any sense if that turbulent history now. Hué is a major tourist stop but we never really felt overrun with tourists. And even the more touristy restaurants and bars have a good deal of locals mixing the crowd up.

We really liked Hué. It was easily walkable, had a laid-back vibe, and had really good food. The culinary history in Hué included several lords that were very picky eaters. And because of the strong Buddhist contingent, there are a lot of restaurants that are vegetarian or have vegetarian options.

As we left, I mentally put Hué on the list of places I'd like to spend more time in.

- Matt