So, after a largely uneventful night on the bumper “sleeper” bus, characterized by massive jolts and false teeth chattering I arrived in the city of Hue. I got off the bus and again because of the tourist open tour we were assaulted by pushy (literally) men with cards and leaflets selling you their accommodation. Now, as it’s never a bus station it’s always a bloody commission based hotel, so you’re never sure where you actually are in relation to things or indeed to your hotel if you have booked one. So, I got my guide book out and I just got crowded, then I moved away and again I was aggressively treated and way too much grabbing, so I let rip; Kind of. I got angry and moved away from them but by this time the Franco-Colombian woman was following I and again we were harassed, in which I just carried a load of expletives and marched back to the hotel lobby, even getting an elbow from one of the arse holes.
Anyway, the hotel was actually reasonably priced at 8 dollars and I had a look at the room and decided to take it and so did the
woman following me. I then went to the Post Office to see if my bank cards had arrived via Post Restante, but to my disappointment they hadn’t.
Anyway, despite it being a scorching hot day (35 C) I went for a wander around Huế which was the imperial capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty and of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945. I walked - then gave in and took a xe om
over to the famous citadel a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. A fascinating place which included a forbidden city where only the concubines, emperors, and those close enough to them were granted access, the punishment for trespassing being death. However, a lot of it has been destroyed by wars over the years, but still there is a tremendous amount to see over a huge area and I spent a good two hours wandering.
The citadel was the centre of one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War. During the surprise Tết Offensive of 1968, during which half of South Vietnam’s 730,000-man army was on leave—the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army launched a massive assault on South Vietnam. The city (despite being in
South Vietnam) was captured and for three and half weeks they flew their flag from the citadel, now the Vietnamese flag. Famously, It was a pretty famous/infamous battle to get the city back three under strength U.S. Marine battalions, consisting of fewer than 2,500 men drove more than 10,000 entrenched enemy troops, liberating Hue for South Vietnam. It even featured in the film Full Metal Jacket (based on the 1979 novel The Short-Timers), whereby the main characters are sent from Da Nang during the Battle of Hue. But, the Tet Offensive and Hue changed many American’s minds about the cost of the war.
Temples in Hue
I then got on the back of a motorbike and was taken to a few other sites including the a symbol of the city Thien Mu Pagoda, the symbol of Hue and then an Austin car at the back which transported one of those monks to Saigon to self immolate themselves. Yep, that guy was from this pagoda, and they kept the rusting old car he travelled in and is in all the pictures of that infamous scene out the back.
Afterwards I was taken to one of the royal tombs of the Nguyễn
Dynasty, that of Tu Duc, the longest reigning Emperor (1848-83) and in which the enormous expense of building it actually caused a coup plot. Anyway, a pretty fantastic place to stroll around in, lots of temples to his concubines and wives and oh not forgetting his mother. The site of his burial is unknown along with great treasure to prevent grave robbers and 200 of his servants were beheaded and buried with in order to keep that secret.
I really liked Hue, it has a lot of historical interest despite the constant "hey" "yo", "you" from the mororbike taxis and cyclos.
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