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Published: December 24th 2015
Arrived Hue and proceeded directly to Saigon Morin Hotel. Checked in and had a delicious dinner at the hotel. My local guide here is Dai and he will be back at 9 a.m. Crashed, body is finally in sync with new time zone. Sleep and other body functions are right on schedule, if you know what I mean.
Morning arrives and it’s misting, overcast and dull. We go directly to a dragon boat on the Perfume River. The family that owns the boat lives on it. It used to be a fishing boat but now is used for tourists. They family consists of husband, wife and two sons, ages 11 and 15. The kitchen is a hot plate and a few dishes. Didn’t ask to see the bathroom, but am sure that it is rudimentary at best, a closet if I would be forced to guess. The lady of the house has “souvenirs” to sell on board and I “contribute” to the family’s income for the month of December. The Dragon boat delivers us to the Mu (Heavenly Lady) Pagoda. This is the home of a Buddhist monastery. The Buddhists allow both men and women to become monks and those
inspired to learn more about the teachings of Buddha can come to the monastery as early as age 7. They keep a very strict schedule of prayer and learning and live a modest and humble lifestyle. The kitchen facilities were very basic and I observed as they were preparing lunch.
Leaving the Pagoda behind, we visited a “garden house”. These homes were for princes and princesses of the Imperial family. The Emperor had one Queen; chosen by his mother. He also had many wives and concubines all of which could or did bear him children, all princes and princesses. The only child eligible for succession to the throne was the first son of the Queen. But the other children were given properties and built “garden homes” creating a harmonious setting with nature, involving water (ponds) land (many fruit trees), heavenly spirit.
Next stop is a visit to the Citadel. This is very much like “The Forbidden City” in Beijing. A walled city, with an interior moat and four main gates allow access. The symmetry of the design is visible looking at the model, and there are very strict levels of access, whether in a courtyard or a building
depending on your ranking in the Imperial court.
Stop for lunch. Oh my goodness. The food is so beautifully arranged and the menu is a smorgasbord of fresh ingredients artfully combined with herbs and spices that arouse all my senses, beginning with my eyes, followed by my nose, the textures in my mouth and the delight of my tastebuds make this a lunch to remember. Local beer is tasty too.
Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang is situated outside of Hue and is an elaborately designed and constructed tribute with serene, peaceful surroundings. Each emperor’s tomb is a signature piece of the owner and Minh Mang built a monument of esteem in a location providing protection from the mountains and river, with the path to heaven. Returned to hotel by my guide, Dai.
I decide to go to the local market. It is still misting and once outside a rickshaw driver offers me a ride for a one-hour tour with stops at my liking. It’s a bit rickety this rickshaw and I am front and center in the traffic of motorbikes, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians. “It’s FUN!!!” Stopping at the colorful, loud, bustling market I find stalls of
every variety. Fragrant flowers, food, (prepared fresh) groceries, household goods, souvenirs, clothing, shoes, you name it they have it. A friendly woman who apparently spotted me as soon as I got off the rickshaw acts as my tour guide and hustles me around the market. The smiley face puppets are a hit, except with a small child who scrunches up his face ready to break into fearful tears, the vendors giggle at the child’s response and I hurry off to avoid the unintended fearful response to my attempt at friendship. I buy a couple of items from my new “friendly vendor” and head off to continue my rickshaw ride. The pedal master takes me around the downtown, past several historical monuments, and to see the holiday lights. I also get to see the immense Catholic church with it’s stained glass and large marble statue of Jesus. It’s raining now and my emergency poncho comes in handy. The tour continues and by the time I am returned to my hotel two hours has passed.
Before departing on my excursion I booked “The Royal Dinner” at my hotel. This turned out to be a private event and since I was a
booking of one, I got to be the “Queen”. When I arrived at the appointed hour I was dressed in the costume of the “Queen” and was paraded through the main dining room as the guests applauded, flanked on each side by servants bearing a fan and the ceremonial umbrella. The room was ornately decorated and I was served another delicious and intricately adorned meal. The costumed musicians played traditional Vietnamese instruments and performed beautiful musical melodies which were explained to me by the group’s leader.
Before retiring I enjoy a foot reflexology treatment and a full body massage. Wonder-filled day in Hue!!!
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