Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Imperial City of Hue

After our time in Hoi An, we headed up the coast to the former Imperial city of Hue, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. Here's UNESCO on Hue:
Established as the capital of unified Viet Nam in 1802, Hué was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. The Perfume River winds its way through the Capital City, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City, giving this unique feudal capital a setting of great natural beauty.
Hue is constructed like a series of interlocking boxes, with the capital city surrounding the Imperial City (the former home of the Nguyen emperors), which surrounds the Forbidden Purple City ("forbidden" because entry was restricted only to the emperor and his close family). Each section is separated from the others by walls and canals.
Much of the complex was destroyed by war (both during the war with the French for independence, and the Vietnam War). They are busy restoring what remains.
R and I in front of the outer wall, Communist flag flying in the background. 
We were popular with Vietnamese tourists for posing purposes, as always
The City is really big, full of broad squares and avenues (like the Forbidden City in China, it was a real city in both size and scope), so walking around the whole thing can be tiring, especially in Vietnam's heat. Luckily a number of horse-drawn carts were available. The poor horse above was pulling a clown-car-esque huge family group. I couldn't believe how many people they stuffed in there!
To R's pleasure, we rented a horse-drawn carriage and drove around the City that way. It made viewing with a toddler much more pleasant!
Going through one of the decorated gates separating different sections of the City
One of the houses for the Emperor, in mixed East-West style
One of the broad avenues spanning a lotus-choked canal
Decorative statue
They also had ponies to pose on. R was really nervous about mounting it but managed to do it in the end. 
Hue itself is not that big a city (population is around 340,000) and has a rather sleepy, charming feel. The river winding through the city, along with all the trees lining the streets, certainly add to the atmosphere. Plenty of taxis are available, but the most fun way to get around is via cyclo.
R in her cyclo
Crossing the Perfume River
Everything can go on the back of a bike or motorbike in SE Asia!
Much of Hue isn't nearly so busy, though, and looks more like this (that's R's little head sticking out of the cyclo): quiet, tree-lined streets full of little shops and restaurants.

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