Tuesday, 13 August 2013


entering the citadel
It is a long way, three hours each way by car, from Hoi An to Huế, a city that was home to the Nguyễn dynasty in Vietnam.

Hue dominated southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. Apart from tussles with the French, its rulers kept Huế as the national capital until 1945. Many parts of Hue were damaged during the War (1964 – 76) because the Communists launched Tet offensive just down the road.

a palace reception room all gold and red

A resting place tomb and mausoleum for Tu Doc

Now UNESCO has been busy; the area is festooned with World Heritage Sites. Nguyễn emperors built the Citadel, a large, walled site on the north side of the Perfume River. This is a sort of live-in Westfield’s: It had housing for the emperors, concubines, and those close friends as well as places to make, shop and store one’s wealth.

In a light drizzle we drove on to Tự Đức’s tomb and mausoleum. He was one of the last of the Nguyễn clan and blessed with 104 wives. A very private person, he built this place with 10,000 soldiers in four years and then had them all put to death to keep the location a secret.
Burial Chamber with spirits guarding 

The arresting Thiên Mụ Pagoda is the largest in Huế and with its seven stories is one of the biggest in Vietnam. It is the official symbol of the city and sits on the northern bank of the Perfume River. It was raining hard when we arrived and with difficulty I was just able to draw it in my book. I left the place very wet and somewhat grumpy as a stallholder nearby where we were parked tried to charge me to use the WC.

We regained our driver and then made the long journey back into the Hai Van Pass.

This was part of a wonderful two-week stay in Vietnam in July, we were based in Hoi An, half way up the countries long and exciting coast, about 1000 km north of Ho Chi Min City (Saigon).

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim