Friday, June 26, 2015

Boating on the Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam

 Hue is dominated by the Perfume River, which charmingly winds right through the middle of town (I love the name too, so picturesque!). Not suprisingly, there are a lot of options for river exploration.
 One day we rented a swan-shaped paddleboat and had a very fun couple hours tooling around on the river (we would have stayed longer but I was worried about sun exposure for R).
This was one of the highlights of the trip for R: look how happy she is! She loved steering even though she wasn't very good at it (luckily it didn't matter at all, so we were glad to cede control to her).
 Another day we rented our own motor boat (ours is one of the boats docked at the roadside) and sailed down the Perfume River to view nearby palaces and pagodas. This is a very popular trip and available everywhere (though like most tourist-oriented things in Vietnam, it's buyer beware: be careful not to overpay or accidentally get booked on a tour with a hard sell of additional services/products).
R and I playing a Jake and the Neverland Pirates game
 The boat was great as we had it all to ourselves and R had plenty of space to roam around. I was happy it was completely roofed (and even had curtains) to help keep her out of the tropical sun. Part of our boat rental included lunch prepared and served on the boat, which was both nice and convenient.
 We bought R a little Vietnamese style suit at the first stop, at her request: she liked it because it was pink. So cute to see her in it though!
 The first stop on all these tours is the Thien Mu Pagoda, at seven stories Vietnam's tallest. The pagoda is right next to the river, so boating there is both easy and fun.
 R riding one of the huge memorial stone turtles, a symbol of longevity. She just liked them because they were animals.
R gave a hug to one of the temple guardian statues
Next stop on the tour was the Tu Duc Mausoleum. Motorbikes will meet you at the place boats dock and for an additional fee will give you a ride directly to the mausoleum (less than 10 minutes). We chose to walk instead, which in retrospect was not a good idea. It was too hot and sunny, and the path is not clearly marked so that we got lost. Trudging along blazing hot pathways with an increasingly grumpy three-year-old is not any fun at all.

Luckily we found a small store (really just someone's house where they were selling some cans of soda occasionally) and rehydrated in the shade of their veranda, hanging out with the owner, the owner's wife, the owner's son (none of whom really spoke English, but all were very friendly and charmed by R), goats, dogs, chickens, and cats. We got directions of a sort and soon found our way to the Mausoleum after all.
It is a huge complex--the emperor used it as a retreat for himself and his court during his lifetime--and full of beautiful old trees and atmospherically crumbling buildings.

The roof architecture is especially decorative.
Happy doing my favorite thing, visiting historical sites!
We took motorbikes back to our boat, having learned our lesson the first time. We had rented the boat for a full day but were so tired from our hike and tomb viewing that we skipped seeing the other tombs and just returned back to Hue around 3 pm. Still a really fun day out, and a perfect close to our time in Vietnam.

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