And so, we arrived to Hue. Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1744 until the last emperor in 1945. The city was damaged greatly during American war (known to us as Vietnam war), but many landmarks remain intact.
In the center of Hue is the Citadel, with Imperial City, inside of which is another Citadel with its forbidden Purple City which was reserved only for emperor and his family and servants. Around the Citadel, there’s a system of protective trench. And then there are these fishies in the waters around Forbidden City.
Hue temperatures were extremely hot. We walked around the Citadel for a couple of hours, looking for shade every few minutes to cool off. The Citadel is so large impressive that it would be easy to spend a whole day here.
I’m very proud of this Citadel photo – check out the butterfly I caught in mid-flight!
Luckily, in the evening the Hue cools down quickly and the air becomes pleasant. But before the night descended, we just wanted a swimming pool. And so we (Kurt, myself, and one of our travel companions, Dezbah) went to a public swimming pool where for an admission of 75 cents we were totally entertained by swimming laps in a communist-style Olympic pool. Vietnamese music blasted through the speakers. Guys and girls had to swim in separate sections, and being the only tourists there, we were a curious wonder for all the locals.
For dinner our group met up in a fancy mansion-style restaurant on the north side of Citadel and then, instead of taking a cab, we took an hour + walk back to our hotel, stopping for beer at a small café by the river.
The next day, we hired a boat and went to see numerous pagodas along the Perfume River. Our “dragon boat” was small and Spartan, with plastic chairs and a lady guide who didn’t speak much English. The heat was unbearable again. And this is November, I can only imagine the summer season! We saw many beautiful pagodas, but the distances between them were long, and in this heat our 4 hour trip was 3 hours too long. Still, it was amazing to see all the river life and work that goes on here daily, despite the hellish heat.
We couldn’t wait to get back to the shore, eat lunch and jump in the pool. This time, to swim we went to the fancy Imperial Hotel. You can pay $5 admission and access just about any pool in any hotel of Vietnam.
The Imperial hotel also has a beautiful rooftop lounge, and from here the whole city view looks and feels a little bit like Europe. Just see for yourself. Of course, martinis were in order!
During our second night in Hue, Kurt and I strayed from the group and ate dinner in a delicious Indian restaurant (I was ready for a break from noodles and spring rolls!). Then we went for a walk in the bar and gallery district, which was a very cute area and hopping and full of tourists. We had a drink in a hostel that charges $1 per night! For a dorm room. So don’t you ever think you need a huge budget to travel. I was trying to discover what is a special / delicious drink in Vietnam. They don’t drink Sake. Their mojitos are… well… not made the way you would want them to taste in a hot climate. And then, we found it. Watermelon Vodka. Sounds gross at first, but it actually consists of a real iced / crushed watermelon with a little bit of regular vodka in it. Perfectly refreshing!
Overall we really enjoyed Hue. Many tourists bypass Hue because to them it appears to be a mediocre large city, and head straight to Hoi Ann. But we are so glad we stopped here.
The view below is from out hotel balcony.