Tomb of Tu Doc
Built after Minh Mang, between 1864 and 1867 and was actually used before the emperor's death, such was the vast scale of the 'tomb' (ironically, no-one knows where his body actually lies - all 200 servants involved in his burial were beheaded to prevent grave-robbers!).
It is very much inspired by Minh Mang's tomb - another harmonious synthesis of nature (lakes, gardens) and any number of temples, pavillions, a harem (now in ruins, but Tu Doc had 104 wives and countless concubines!) - even a theatre.
Tomb of Tu Doc is the closest of the Nguyen Royal tombs to Hue, approximately 5kms south of the city.
Entry to the tomb is 55,000 Dong.
Tomb of Khai Dinh
Begun in 1920, completed in 1931 for Emperor Khai Din, this tomb is to be found in the hillside approx 3kms from the river and 10kms from Hue.
Some see this tomb as the evidence of the decline of Vietnamese culture during colonnial rule, others see it as Vietnam embracing modernism. Whichever yuor view, this particular tomb is unique among the Nguyen royal tombs.
A series of stepped terraces on the hillside lead you to the eventual tomb, passing carved dragons, mandarins, elephants, horses etc. The tomb itself is to be found inside a building that is certainly more European baroque/roccoco than SEAsian - Sans Soucci in Potsdam or the smaller chateau of the Loire Valley sprang to mind - although the interior, overly ornate, is most definately Chinese.
Entrance to the tomb is 55,000 Dong
Tomb of Minh Mang
To my mind, the most serene of all the Royal Nguyen tombs is Minh Mang - about 12 kms from Hue on the west bank of the Perfume River (and the furthest away from Hue).
Renowned for its architecture, the tomb was built between 1841 and 1843. It's a series of Chinese influenced temples, gateways, courtyards, gardens, lakes, bridges and pavillions, creating a harmonious whole.
Entrance fee is 55,000 Dong.
The Rockpile, in northern Quang Tri Province, is the first stop north of Hue on the DMZ tour. It was a famous listening post during the Vietnam War, which US troops were helicoptered in and out of, and from which they guided bombers. It was also an artillery base with a huge array of big guns, including 175 long Toms, 8-inchers on tracks, 105s and 155s.
I found this story from a Vietnam vet who was based there: ' I had a pet rat on the Rock Pile. One night I awoke with him crawling across my head. I figured out he was after my food. So after that, I would leave a little piece of food at the foot of my sleeping bag. The rat would come up at night, eat the food, When I would wake up in the morning, the rat would run out.' Jim DeMers, USMC, 1st Radio Batallion, January 1967.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Hon Chen Temple
Ho Chen Temple is a small, peaceful place, surrounded by woodland, where local people come, by boat, down the Perfume River in order to pray, especially during Tet.
I'm sure every foreign visitor follows the intriguing path past the temple to see what's at the end. It's a public toilet, so if you're on an all-day boat trip, you'll know where to find one.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
The Military Museum
This is your typical Vietnamese military museum with the usual American and Soviet weapons. It includes a decent outdoor armoured vehicle display and a MIG 17. There is a video that a Dutch guy and I watched and it was so hopelessly propogandic they we were desperately trying not to laugh too much. I mean that it was over the top.
The museum is located in behind the school that is across from the Imperial Museum at 3 D Le Truc. Admission was 10,000 Dong.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Lang Co Beach
This is usually the first stop for the open tour buses going from Hue to Danang. The setting is really nice as the mountains surround the area . The lagoon is fairly nice and there is a long beachfront along the South China Sea.
- Road Trip
Copper bell and bronze drum
Several places in Hue are historical sites and must be preserved. Sometimes these belong to the public, and the caretaker lives on the premise. Sometimes these belong to locals; enterprising owners may decide to erect a cafe or restaurant around it. We found these in a neighborhood just outside the wall of the Citadel. There's a cafe next to it.
Bronze drums with stylized reliefs of people and animals on top are among the earliest known Vietnamese archaeological artifacts. They appropriately are the country's heraldic symbol. Strangely, the decorative motif is similar to that of objects found from Myanmar to Indonesia, suggesting cultural exchange or even a common ancestral root.
Disturbing relic from the 60s
At Thien Mu Pagoda, a battered green sedan sits in a garage. This may seem strange to those who don't know its shocking history. In the 1960s, Vietnamese Buddhists contended that they were persecuted by the regime of then-president Ngo Dinh Diem, who was a Catholic. In protest, on June 13, 1963, the monk Thich Quang Duc took this car to a busy intersection in Saigon. There, he set himself on fire while remaining seated in a lotus position. The event understandably caused an uproar in Vietnam.
Hai Van Pass
The pass lying on Highway 1 on the border between Thua Thien - Hue and Da Nang provinces. Whenever one goes through Hai Van Pass, two feelings are experienced: amazement at passing through the clouds and fear when seeing the dangerous bends of the road.
A 21 km-long road over Hai Van Pass, winds back and forth to a height of 435 metres above sea level. With sudden curves and blind corners, Hai Van Pass is likened to challenging drivers' skills. Its name means "Pass of the Ocean Clouds," since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea. From the top of Hai Van Pass, one can admire Lang Co Beach to the north and Danang to the south.
- Hiking and Walking
This is on the river bank, across from the Quoc Hoc High School. Since the old days, it has been used as an assembly area for outdoor performance, plays, concerts, etc.
This stone and concrete structure is rather unattractive. If I remember correctly, it was the church of Ngo Dinh Diem's older brother, Ngo Dinh Thuc, who was the archbishop of Hue.
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