Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hue, Vietnam



Every city we visited in Vietnam taught me more and more about the history of this country and helped me better understand the impact and realities of communism as well as America's motivations for fighting the Vietnam war and our lasting legacy in the country. Hue (pronounced Hway) was no exception. 

Hue is in a central location in Vietnam and was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, when the emperor Bao Dai abdicated and a communist government was formed in Hanoi under Ho Chi Minh. Due to Hue's location very near the border between North and South Vietnam, it also became a very vulnerable city during the Vietnam War and suffered extensive damage to many historical sites and relics. 

Our time in Hue was spent exploring the Imperial Citadel, checking out pagodas, and exploring the tombs of several Vietnamese emperors. 


{The huge citadel is surrounded by a moat (with thousands of lily pads and lotus flowers!) and a large wall. A pretty impressive defense if you ask me, but it has not been properly maintained. Many people live within the citadel and have even built homes on top of the walls in some areas.}





{In Southeast Asia, there is an abundance of plumerias. They are so beautiful and smell so good. I've made a habit of picking up freshly fallen plumerias off the ground and pinning it behind my ear for as long as it will last.}



One of our favorite sites in Hue was the Thien Mu Pagoda. It's a really tall pagoda located right on the banks of the Perfume River. It's also the temple where Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, the first monk to burn himself to death in 1963 in protest of the anti-Buddhist persecution of the South Vietnamese government, practiced and worshipped. The car that was used to drive him to Saigon (and is featured prominently in the photo that made this incident famous) is also located on the grounds. 






On our last day, we rented a moto and drove around to the tombs of various emperors of the Nguyen dynasty who ruled Vietnam from Hue from the 17th to 19th century. It was lightly raining pretty much the entire day, but we still had a great time exploring these pretty big and lavish tombs. 

The longer I'm in Southeast Asia, the more okay I am with being wet. Whether that means sweating buckets or getting soaked in the rain, I've learned to deal with the humid climate here and accept the fact that I'm not gonna stay dry. I think there's an ancient belief somewhere that the more you sweat, the cleaner and healthier you'll be, so I'll just stick to that thinking for now. 



{Tu Duc Tomb}




{Khai Dinh Tomb}




{Thieu Tri Tomb}

As we had been driving to all the different tombs, we kept seeing this bright white statue on top of a very green hill. At the end of the day, we decided we wanted to check it out, so Bradford revved that moto and drove it all the way up the hill right to the top. It was a beautiful female figure and there was an upcoming festival so the temple had added some extra decorations around it which was pretty cool. 




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