James is exercising his blogging skills on this post, take it away James …
We stopped over in Hue to take in more of what Vietnam has to offer. It was crowded, but not massive like Hanoi or Saigon. I remember pulling over at a KFC upon arrival for the sole purpose of finding WiFi and a hotel online. The place we stayed was called “The Charming Riverside Hotel”. It had free breakfast and nice views from the 5th story window.
Our first day in Hue consisted of a self-guided tour through the old citadel. Hue was Vietnam’s capital in the 1800’s, and what’s left of the citadel takes up almost half the city!
Anyways, there was some beautiful architecture and history within these walls. People live in there as well, so it really is just a really historic extension of the city itself. That being said, the area is really important to the Vietnamese.
I might have mentioned that the Vietnam Was fought in this region. There were quite a few old tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and warplanes on display in the old citadel.
What struck me was that the descriptions of all the American weapons said things like: “This bomber was used by the American Imperialists during their invasion of Vietnam.” It was interesting to get a different perspective of good guy vs bad guy. Here are just a couple. They must have had at least two dozen big guns on display.
Next we made our way to a cool pagoda called Cha Thien Mu. It was a little ways outside of town, but probably my favorite site in Hue because it was so unique looking.
Does everyone recognize this iconic picture? It is a monk named Thích Quảng Đức lighting himself on fire to protest persecution of Buddhists in 1963. It is really tragic, but they have the car in the background of this famous photograph here on display:
Hue itself was pretty genuine Vietnam. Very few franchises, busy open markets, infinite numbers of motorbikes, and people snacking/drinking coffee on plastic stools in the street. The Vietnamese are morning people. Everything shuts down a bit after dark.
Hue was touristy, but it was also offers a great mix of both traditional and modern Vietnam. Next, we loaded up our motorbike, planned for provisions, and set our sights on somewhere far less populated, The Ho Chi Minh Trail.