Let me start by saying that these pictures aren't representative enough of Huế. It was raining hard the entire time we were there, which made picture taking kind of rough. The rain, and then the floods, didn't stop anyone from what they were doing, but even when the lens wasn't steamed up it was hard to catch the laid-back, spacious and dignified feel of the place. (Mud and dignity are an unstable mix.) The same week we were there, Bill Clinton cancelled his visit to Huế. Though we were soaked, sloshy and mildewed, at least we didn't make the same mistake as Mr. Clinton.
Huế is now a provincial capital, but for over 150 years, it was the capital of Vietnam. The Nguyễn emperors built themselves beautiful tombs, and lived better as dead people than most of us do while we're alive. They had an impact on the food (lots of small, varied and artful dishes), and also left a tradition of court classical music.
* = Duyên's photo
|Huế Teachers University
Huế has 5 universities, with many foreign teachers who happily stay on after the exchange period is over.
Built by the Nguyễn emperors, this was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the American war. Sadly, a lot of the Citadel is now used for farming.
(Note the great weather.) There's watercress growing on either side of the bridge.
As seen from a raised garden
With a bulbous-nosed dragon guarding the stairs
|Farther on in the citadel
The dragons' faces remind me of New York cab drivers.
|The Hall of the Left Mandarin
Next to the Hall of the Left Luggage. The Right Mandarin has a matching hall on the other side of the square.
|Hall of Left Mandarin Interior
If this is how the mandarins conducted their business, you can imagine how the emperors ran theirs.
Hard to tell the where street begins and the river ends. This was the view as we went across Huế by cyclo to take in the sights. We had just looked at a large Buddhist stupa.
For the local residents, this was only a minor hiccup.
|Vase in the museum, with gremlins
Unfortunately, the museum roof had water pouring in. Vietnam is starting to realize how important history (and tourism) is, but the money to upgrade everything won't come overnight.
| Khải Định's mausoleum
Khải Định was the father of Bão Đại, the last Vietnamese emperor. During his nine-year reign, the French were the ones really running the show. His tomb combines Vietnamese and Western styles.
|Front of the main building|
|Life-sized statues of mandarins in the courtyard.
Some clever tourist posed with them in his rain slicker.
|Khải Định mausoleum interior
(Pardon the horrible lighting.) A painting of Khải Định and other bric-a-brac. The walls behind incorporate bits of broken glass bottles into the pattern, a uniquely Vietnamese way of decorating.
|Tự Đức's mausoleum
It's an enormous park with many buildings, which took years to complete. Tự Đức used the place while he was still alive.
|Also at Tự Đức
The lake is an artificial moat for one of the tombs
|*Huế musicians in a barge
Zither, snakeskin fiddle, monochord, percussion and singers.
|*At the cultural center
We walked in on a rehearsal of some rousing communist tunes. There was plenty of showmanship, and what they were lacking in talent, they amply made up for in lack of talent. Maybe their parents will attend.