Imperial City and Perfume River

Hey Dad,

Long day today. I booked onto a day tour so I got picked up at 8am. There were only three of us on the tour, the other two were a married Australian couple; both called Terry.

We started the The Imperial City. A walled city inside Hue. The Imperial City also holds the Purple Forbidden City. It was really interesting to walk around. As we arrived we saw a ceremony at the main doors. I guess it was a similar historical thing like the changing of the guard in London. The overlaps between the ancient vietnamese history and the Chinese are quite remarkable. 

After spending two hours walking though buildings and palaces, we were taken to the Dong Ba Market. I have lost counts of markets now, but I think this was one of the largest. Honestly dad you could get lost in this market and never find your way out. It was also the only organised market I have seen, with similar items being sold in the same area. As with all markets I have come across though the small leaves a lot to be desired. We did not stay too long.

A short bus ride took us to a woman sitting in her stall. She was making incense sticks. There were thousands of tiny bamboo sticks all pre coloured. The colours determine the smell of the stick. She then showed us how to put the incense part onto the stick. She made it look so easy. We all had a go. Needless to say our efforts were well below par! The same stall also made the conical hats. We were shown how they use newspaper between layers of the hat to create a stencil which let’s light though, a bit like a carved pumpkin I suppose. It was interesting to watch how the hats were sewn together. 

From there we ventured to the Tu Duc Tomb. The history behind the Monarch Tu Duc was quite interesting. It is one benefit on taking day tours with knowledgeable guides. You hear about things you other wise would have missed.

Off for lunch then to a nunnery. We were fed a five course vegetarian meal by nuns. Probably not your thing Dad, but the food was OK. 

After lunch we got back to the bus to find the driver asleep. He had pitched a hammock between the bus and a tree. He looked very comfortable. 

Once awake we were driven to a tiger arena. Tigers and elephants were forced to fight until the death in this arena. History and the symbolism of the animals however meant that the elephant always had to win. They would drug the tigers and remove his teeth to make sure he was not on top form and the elephant would have the advantage. I struggled to see the point. Why make animals fight to the death when you have rigged the event so you know who will win? I could fit through the small doors they would open for the animals too. The walls inside were covered in claw marks. 

Next onto a pagoda. Yep another pagoda. It was fabulous as always. This pagoda was in the ground of practicing monks, so we got to see a small portion of how they live. It was one of the most peaceful places I have been to on this trip. 

Our final stop in our long and manic day was a cruise along the Perfume River. As we got to the dock (a thin concrete slab with boats rammed up to it) a small elderly lady put a step out for us. This boat didn’t really look like it should float.  The chairs inside were red plastic garden chairs. The boats engine was also deafening, we could not talk to each other.  The woman then spent the trip trying to sell us things from her little stall on the boat. It was all the same market junk that can be found everywhere. She was also three times more expensive. The whole boat ride just felt like a tourist trap. It should have been wonderful, but it was somehow just lacking something. Fortunately the boat stopped right outside my hotel, so walking back was easy. 

Back to the hotel to pack up once again! Off to Da Nang tomorrow! 

I need to find a faster way to pack….

Night dad x

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