Thursday, December 18, 2008

Imperial Hue

On our second day in Hue we awoke to heavy rain and weren’t sure if we would be up to seeing the imperial sites in a downpour. So we took our time getting ready and by the time we were ready to head out for the day it miraculously stopped raining.

We walked down to the dock area and caught one of the numerous boats for an hour-long ride up the famous Perfume River.The boat ride was a highlight in itself. To see life along the river was fascinating and we couldn’t take pictures fast enough. We soon cruised up to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the tower eight level structure represents the steps to Nirvana. We headed further upriver and soon came to an embankment and was told this is where we get off to walk towards the ancient resident and shrine of Emperor Duc Tu. If Anne didn’t speak Vietnamese we definitely would have hesitated.We realized it was a 15 minute walk through a rural village, which was beautiful and fascinating. We especially liked how each house had its own spirit houses out front for ancestors to be honored and welcomed home anytime. The Vietnamese have a wonderful traditional of having their dearly departed close by whenever they want to speak to them or just miss them, it's very comforting. Some were just simple wooden houses, but some were ornate and decorative.

We soon arrived at the ancient residence of Emperor Tu Duc.
 We don’t know if it was the gray rainy weather, which kept a lot of tourist away, or just the sheer size and zen quality of the compound, but it was surreal, we could have spent the whole day wandering the extremely peaceful grounds.   We especially enjoyed the overgrown gardens where the concubines used to lounge their days away. The Emperor and Empress were so beloved by their servants after their deaths built many shrines dedicated to them all over the grounds, they were large and very impressive. The tombs of the Emperor and Empress were also on the grounds and the sparseness of their courtyards added to the serene and surreal atmosphere.

After exploring the compound for hours in the rain we realized there was a driver we had arranged to pick us up waiting and suggested we see a temple that was on the way back to town. Again we found ourselves the only people there and the rain and gray weather added to the beauty and serenity of the temple compounds.

After our day of exploring the ancient and serene history and culture of Vietnam we wanted to continue that experience with some similarly inspired food. We decided to go to a “Hue Specialties” buffet at the Imperial Hotel. Again we love buffets! This proved to be an excellent one. There was a traditional salad selection, which we started with. We agreed the banana flower salad was the best, but it was a difficult call since there were over 9 to choose from. There was a cold seafood selection, with a fancy ice sculpture and everything.

There were traditional soups and steamed rice cakes selection.
It was difficult deciding which was the best since they were so good and different in fillings. There was a huge hot foods selection.The ostrich steaks were our favorite, but there was such a wide variety it was difficult for us to decide. We also really enjoyed another Vietnamese creamy soup, this one was creamy vegetable and it ranked right up there with the not-a-single-lump potato soup we had on the boat in Ha Long Bay.Unfortunately there were no traditional desserts only fruits and flan, but there were plenty of western desserts! Just like Todai’s buffet back in the states, the desserts were sushi size so we could sample a whole bunch!Another great day of sighseeing and terrific dinner to end the day!

1 comment:

christineburgess said...

please tell me that you will be recreating some of these wonderful foods back home. c burgess.