So we had done the South, and the North and down we were off to see the "Middle" of Vietnam. We began in Hue (pronounced hway) which was the imperial capital of the country until 1945. It's a conservative little town poised on either side of the beautiful Perfume River.
Entering the hotel in Hue.
Everybody loves an infinity pool!
Our shower - too cool! Only problem is the geckos enjoy the steam as much as you do.
Setting sail on the Perfume river to head to the pagodas. The Trang Tien bridge is in the background.
The Perfume River, so called because blooms and flowers float down from upstream in the mountains.
The Thein Mu Pagoda built in 1844. It is an iconic symbol of Vietnam and of Hue. In the 60's a number of political demonstrations took place here. In the courtyard is the car that transported monk Thich Quang Duc to the site of his 1963 self-immolation. He was the first monk to set himself on fire and the photograph made headlines around the world.
There was a monastery at the pagoda an we visited with these young monks during their free time. They are adherents of the Mahayana school of Buddhism so they shave their head all but for the front tuft of hair and wear brown robes. We asked what they were reading for fun and they showed us their book - they were studying nerve synapses and stem cells!
One of the restored portions of the old Citadel.
I can only imagine how beautiful the entire palace was if this is just a small piece of what remains.
The front gate of the Minh Mang burial tomb. He ruled from 1820-1840 and had the tomb built before he died. It's know for being one of the most beautiful and harmonious tombs.
Getting ready to pass through the gate to the Sung An Temple in the tombs.
When we got to the temple we received quite a surprise. They were filming a historical film there! The crew was set up and the actor on the right was rehearsing his lines. We stopped in to watch through the doors, when a newscaster approached our tour guide and asked us to to an interview for Vietnamese TV! The whole exchange was translated via our guide, of course, but it was a lot of fun! If anyone with Vietnamese TV package on their cable box sees our interview - let us know!
Being interviewed on set!
He's portraying an early emperor.
We drove from Hue to Da Nang via the Hai Van Pass. The scenery was gorgeous. At the peak is a bombed out old French fort that was used as a South Vietnamese and American bunker.
Marble Mountain in Da Nang contains a number of natural caves that have been turned into Buddhist sanctuaries.
They were also used during the war as hospitals.
We arrived in Hoi An just in time for the sunset. There were major storms passing through and you can see the rain on the mountain in the distance.
Hoi An is tiny little fishing village that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site as it's a surprisingly intact traditional fishing village.
Our greeter at the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation.
All life here revolves around the river.
Morning fishing and crabbing.
Did I forget to mention that Matt was driving the sampan we are on?
And controlling the throttle with his big toe?
Even Bessie likes to hang out on the river.
We went a bit out of the way to see what the shipyards look like here. These guys thought having their picture taken was the funniest thing!
The Japanese Covered Bridge - built in 1590 to link the Chinese and Japanese settlers on opposite sides of the river.
Hoi An by night.
Last stop Nha Trang! Our visit to Nha Trang was bittersweet. With only one night to spend in this beachside town we spend a lot of time lamenting that it was our last night! Once we got over how much we were going to miss Vietnam we did our very best to make the most of our last day. Nha Trang was nice, but years and years of being a back packer destination have left their imprint. Example: while walking on the side walk a moto driver crossed 4 lanes of traffic to approach us - I thought for a fare - instead he whispered "hey do you want weed?" Dude - have you seen 'Locked Up Abroad'? NO thanks! It's not unspoiled like the UNESCO sites, but that sure doesn't mean it wasn't fun. Here's our last day in Vietnam.
The Nha Trang aquarium, made to look like a beached junk. You have to walk through a lion fish to enter - ooooooo. We were on our way to snorkel in the amazing reefs off the coast - to bad we don't have water proof case for our new camera! :(
On second thought going to an aquarium before snorkeling really isn't a good idea. Do I really want to be reminded of what is swimming in the depths?
Here comes the rain, do da do da, here comes the rain, and I say it's all right...
It does this every day, but this one came on particularly fast!
Heading out of Nha Trang...
Bye, bye Vietnam!
Thanks for tagging along with us!
That was fun!
Why is it that, even though I was thousands of miles away, I'm sad to be leaving? 'Nice to know that I can just flip back a few blog posts and start again.
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