Ok so we left off with Kate and I hopping on a 15 hour bus from Hanoi heading south to Hue which was imperial capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty. Unfortunately the bus was one of those "Victoria is too big for Asia" situations, but Kate had me laughing and we managed to stay in high spirits throughout the trip.
Hue is a UNESCO world heritage site due to it's historical monuments. Unfortunately it is right near the border of North and South Vietnam and most historical sites have been heavily damaged by fire from American troops during the Vietnam War. After the fighting ceased, they were neglected as they were seen as a relic of the old feudal regime; however, today there is a push to restore the old monuments and much success has been had already with the citadel. I was very lucky as I had my own personal tour guide in Kate who had majored in Political Science and East Asian Studies. After we checked into our hostel we headed out to see the sites!
We first went took a boat to the old family gardens which were lovely and showed off a lot of the local fruit plants!
Then we headed to Thien Mu Pagoda, which is regarded as a symbol of the ancient city. The temple was started in 1601 and is still a practicing Buddhist temple. In 1963 the pagoda was a site for anti-government protests due to the Presidents discrimination of Buddhism and the temple now houses the car in which Thich Quang Duc drove to Saigon to burn himself in protest.
After all the site seeing we decided to take a little bike ride back to the hostel on the other side of the perfume river and thus we formed: Bike gang 3.0 (yes the short shorts were still there for those of you who have seen our other bike gangs).
The next morning we went to the citadel, which was the imperial city and home to the emperor and only his family, concubines, and associates were allowed in. Punishment for trespassing on these grounds was death. It was truly amazing to walk in through the gates and we were transported back in time. Assisted by my hangover, I started playing make believe with my highly active imagination. Kate was laughing but others were not so amused as I was really getting involved.
Afterwards we went on a street food extravaganza including, but not limited to, Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup), Bun Bo Gio Heo (cold rice noodles with herbs sauce and pork), and of course. . . the perfect pancake!
Tune in for more tales of Vietnam when we go to beach it up!