Published: March 13th 2011March 13th 2011
Xin Chaoo (pronounced Seen Chow) fellow bloggers! (Hello in Vietnamese)
Our Vietnam adventure continues!! We arrived in Hue after our sleeper train ride early in the morning and were transferred to our hotel along the magestick Perfume river. The first thing we noticed is the weater was warm again!! Out come the shorts and tank tops once more!
Hue is an interesting city in that it was very instrumental during the french occupation and the Vietnam War. Until 1945 Vietnam was ruled by many glamourous and worshipped kings and their royal families. Hue was the royal family's headquarters and remained the capital of Vietnma until 1945 when it was moved to Hanoi. A lot of Hue including the walled citadel and Imperial City was decimated during the wars with the french and americans, however there are still some sites remaining and some have been restored.
During our time in Hue we toured the ancient toombs of the past 13 kinds. Quite astonishing as you go through gate and after gate of beautiful red and gold archways leading to the toombs. Apparently the 1st king chose this place as the grounds are so beautiful and peaceful. Next we went
The City of Hue
Taken our hotel
to the ancient temples and pagodas. Many of these monuments are where the people whorshipeed their ancetors.
One of the funnest things we have done so far was a motorcycle tour around the Hue countryside. All 14 of us had our own driver who took care of us. We saw so many fasinating sights of local life in the rice paddies and villages. They have paved paths throughout the country so bikes and scooters can transport their goods. Everyone seems to be so happy as they go about their work. The rice was 3 months into their growing season and a month from harvesting. The farmers were at the weeding stage. Dressed with the traditional Vietnam hat you could see them for miles weeding away. We visited a rice museum and a local lady's home to see how they make the hats.
As we neared the city, thke paths became narrower and narrower and it was quite the ride winding around all the curves and turns. The peoples' houses were literally a foot away from where we were driving. Not problem in Vietnam!! Later we headed towards the Perfume River where many battles took place during the french
resistence and Vietnam War. We saw many bunkers along the river and you can imagine what took place. Very eerie and hard to believe what happened here. The famous "Hamburger Hill" was in the distance. (look it up if you are not familiar - a horrible event)
Our last morning in Hue took us to the Citedal and the Purple Forbidden City. These grounds, palaces and temples were where the royal families lived. The grounds are massive with different residences for the queen mother etc. The interesting thing is that anyone who is related to the king (brother, sister, uncle, cousin etc.) got to live in the safety of the 10 km around.
In having our own tour guide for every area of our journey, we have learned much about Vietnam. He says the young generation is not too concerned about the Vietnam war and doesn't mean much to them. But people our age and older so remember and suffered so much. The worst effect presently is the "agent orange". You see many people in their 40's with only one arm or a deformed limb as they were born from parents that were affected by the chemical. But
I feel like a giant!!
the country provides meaningful and well paid jobs for some of them. Many of them do beautiful x-stitching and sell newspapers on a bike pedalled by their arms if they have no legs.
The government is communist but from what we can gather it seems rather soft and democratic!! There is only one party but there are elected representatives from each region. School is free to and including highschool. If they pass a set exam after highschool they enter university. If the family cannot afford the tuition the government will pay if they have passed the test. The others who do not make the cut go to a specialized college or become a worker or labourer. There is no child labour in Vietnam nor sweatshops. Factory workers are paid well and work in good conditions. If they are not happy they can negogiate or just quit and get a better job as basically there is no unemployment.
There is very little crime in Vietnam. Guns are not allowed and they are not around. Very few crimes are committed but if they are there are severely punished.
There are also many very wealthy people in Vietnam. The government
does not interfere with free enterpirse so we don't really understand the concept of communism here! The only thing we have noted is that Facebook is blocked! Families are very impportant. Elders are lookedk after at home and many in the 80's and 90's still work. When a couple marries they live with the husband's family and they all stay together forever. When grandchildren arrive, the grandparents retire from their job and look after the children to free the parents to work. When a family member dies, they are buried in a coffin. Two years later their children dig up the coffin and wash the bones at 4 o'clock in the morning and puts them in a small toomb which is erected somewhere close to their home. You will see hundreds of them in the rice paddies. In the cities due to space restriction, they are cremated. The religions are versions and mixtures of Buddism, Teoism, Confusiosism and some Catholics. Worshipping the ancestors is more important than their religion.
Ah ..... Hoi An (what a charming city of 80,000)was our next stop. We travelled through the mountains and on hair pin turns and stopped at some beautiful veiwpoints and
She would wear this outfit in the old days if it was raining while she was working in the rice fields
sites along the way. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy so we didn't get the true view! An amazing stoop was teh Temple of Marble. This is a striking temple built around and on top of a marble mountain. You can imagine, the 500 or so steps up to the top are all marble! As well there are temples and whorshipping altars situated in three huge beautiful marble caves. Along the area are many bunders from the war. We stopped at China Beach for lunch. This is where the US army had their recreational center for the soldiers.
It's hard to describe the charm and abience of Hoi An. Basically part of the city along the river is still as it was the the old days and is referred to as the Ancient Village. Most of the old buildings have been turned into restaurants, shops and tailor shops. Everything along and on the river is lit at night with lanterns, dragons and lights. Vietnamese music is played in the streets to complete the experience. The tailor shops are the highlight. Here you can get a fitted suit, dress, blouse (or anything) for a fraction of the price you pay
at home and in 4 hours!! I paid $20 for a custom made blouse and Warrern got a couple of pair of dress pants for $40 each. They will keep altering until you are happy. The place we went to has 300 sewes upstairs!!
The Vietnamese people here are so fun, friendly and always have a smile. Yes they try to sell you something but for us that is part of the fun. The local market in Hoi An is quite the sight. Fish fresh from the boats, every kind of vegetable you and imagine and all kinds of fresh noodles are ready for sale. Everyone rides a scooter or bike. Only the odd tiny taxi.
We took a fun filled 31/2 hour bicycle tour around the countryside of Hoi An. We were provided with comfort bikes and away we wetn. What a lovely trip through the vegetable gardens. Wow, such beautiful, perfect and green gardens. And so peaceful and calm. We saw water buffalo, water cocanut mangroves and the daily life of the country people.
It seems every area or city in Vietnam has a specialty dish which we have been enjoying. Hoi An fired wontons
for example. Another discovery is Hoi An's fresh daily draft beer at 15 cents a mug! And a very good taste.
Tomorrow we take a flight to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City) for the next chapter in Vietnma. Bye for now.
Mallory and Warren
There are more photos below