Huế – Central Vietnam

Two days of leisure and time to catch up on the blog.  It was fun to explore the streets of this old central Vietnamese city on our own and find a nice restaurant for dinner.

Huế is the capital city of Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, Vietnam. Between 1802 and 1945, it was the imperial capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty.

Saw a lot of French Colonial influence

A lot of French Colonial buildings are still here, and some are in very good condition


Traditional Vietnamese instruments, but playing western pieces while we ate.

Traditional Vietnamese instruments were playing at our dinner restaurant,  but they were playing all western-tunes!


Vietnamese coffee at local coffee shop -- they have shops on every corner.

A good, strong Vietnamese coffee at  a  local coffee shop — they have shops on every corner.   Almost like Portland!     Love the tables made from old bicycle wheels …


We walked over the Perfume River Bridge (after saying “no thank you” to dozens of cyclo drivers along the way), to visit the Citadel. The Citadel is actually the wall and moat around the Imperial City (2.5 kilometers perimeter) itself, but a second set of walls and a second moat was constructed around the Emperor’s palace, or the “Purple Forbidden City” within it.  This is primarily where we spent our time exploring.

Most of the buildings were destroyed during the French  and Vietnam wars, but  the grounds themselves are very impressive along with the buildings that do remain.  Only 20 of the original 148 buildings survived the wars, and many of those are now being restored, but the damaged ones were just as fascinating to see.  Walking among the gardens of the Forbidden City one could feel the isolation that the royal family maintained from the daily life of Huế.  The rule of the final Vietnamese Emperor lasted until the mid-1900s.

As part of the ‘Tet Offensive’ in 1968, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched a coordinated attack on Huế.  It really was a diversionary tactic for the bigger actions that followed down south, but the assault here was massive.  Allied forces were at first ordered not to bomb or shell the city for fear of destroying historical structures, but as casualties mounted in hand to hand combat, these restrictions were progressively lifted and the fighting caused substantial damage to the Imperial City itself.

The entire city was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, and as a result, many nations have contributed significant funding to aid in restoration efforts.


The Perfume River

The Perfume River and downtown Hue


The Citadel

The main icon of the ancient Citadel


Into the Forbidden City

A main entrance  (on the south) to the Forbidden City



One of many walkways that exist in the complex, each of which takes you to more and more beautifully created arches, buildings and walls.


made with shells

This is one of the panels on such a gate;  the creations are unique and beautifully colored (though most are in need of restoration now).


Other panel

Another panel – with flowers that are all made with tiny sea shells



Garden Peacock topiary in a section of the Imperial garden that is devoted to birds.



part of the Emperors’ Palace


Family visiting temple for blessing

A family wedding-party visiting the temple for a buddhist blessing.


Beautiful woman

This beautiful woman allowed me to take her picture before departing with her family.  What a gorgeous traditional dress!


Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace entrance



Inside the entrance one can see the strong Chinese ensign influences


restored and not

This particular structure, built by the last Emperor for his parents inside the palace walls, is badly in seen of restoration.  A quick look around the base revealed many years of termite infestation taking a toll . . .


roof detail

roof detail of the previous building


Imperial Dragon

Imperial Dragon in a courtyard behind the palace where the Emperor held court.


 Many interesting gates

Many interesting gates.  Many of the designs were from pieces of pottery that were incident to the era of construction.


Wall shows some shell damage

This wall shows  some of the shelling  damage that occurred during the Tet-offensive in 1968 . . .


View of what most of the Citadel area looks like

. . . as does this one.    This view offers a glimpse of most of the Citadel areas where buildings no longer exist.

Building being restored -- love their mounds for mixing cement

This building is under renovation — Vietnamese style!    Love these ‘crater-like mounds’ they make for mixing the cement to retile walls and floors!


the inside moat

One of the moats that still exit within the walls of the Imperil City.  The wall on the right separates the City from that portion that was the residence of the last Emperor.


We also visited a major local market early one morning.  These markets are fascinating windows that expose daily life for many of the inhabitants of these cities.  And of course we  know one is supposed to bargain when shopping in them, but when you’re not comfortable  doing so, you wind up like Evie, paying WAY too much for a pair of flip flops!  (But I just know I made someone’s day!)    Maybe next time I’ll do better.   It is also hard to get used to the large numbers.  21,000 VND is about the equivalent   1 US dollar.  So if I add a zero it can make a big difference  😏.


Love those fresh herbs and leaves -- so favorful -- must have 10 different mints

Love those fresh herbs and leaves — so favorfull — there are at least 10 different kinds of mint!


So colorful

So colorful and delicious


How much are the dried mangos?

“How much for those dried mangos?”     (OK – – he did better than I did!)


Anyone for brains...

Anyone for brains…  These are actually pigs-brains.   (Evie quickly moved on.)


Fresh fish

Fresh fish for dinner.  Look at the variety! …and ALL caught that morning


more fish

I had a small red snapper for dinner, though not from this nice lady.


Balance is so important

Balance is so important carrying these loads.    These ladies were just a few doors down from our hotel in the center of the old town.


Live chickens going home to be dinner

Live chickens headed home for  dinner tonight.


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