Firstly, we enjoyed a fabulous rest day doing very little indeed (highlight was a trip to the laundry lady to drop off washing... another day or so it would have walked by itself).
Only thing to do once rejuvenated was of course exhaust ourselves all over again. The day dawned rainy and gray - perfect for an atmospheric wander around the Imperial Citadel. Huge. Think all three tomb complexes from the other day, combined. It was built primarily between 1803 and 1833 and was the hub of all government business for the Nguyen dynasty who were in power from 1802 to 1945. This would have involved the residences, administration, royal ceremonies and rituals, daily activities and entertainment of the emperors and their families. It was seriously damaged by the wars in 1947 and 1968 but has been gradually restored and conserved in most part - though one of the saddest spots for us was a temple that had been completely wiped out - nothing to restore other than the portal or gate that was done recently in a joint operation between Vietnam and Germany. James found a google maps walking tour to keep us on track and ensure we didn’t miss any of the major sights/sites within the citadel (36.3 hectares mind you... may well have missed something.)
Our trip was timed beautifully and we even treated ourselves to a taxi to get there - in order to save our feet for the exploration and the walk home afterwards. It rained in the beginning and poured at the end, but the time in between was just misty and gray and it probably kept the crowds down, if not the bugs. (To be fair, we’ve come across less bugs in all the main centres of Vietnam than we would in Sydney back in the day. We don’t know what they’ve got in their backpacks of bug spray, and probably don’t want to.)
The site was even bigger than we expected, but rather than fretting about seeing it all and memorising the names and characteristics of every temple, pavilion and bridge, we just focussed on taking lots of lovely photos and enjoying the (long) walk. We popped out eventually, and were immediately swamped by people trying to flog umbrellas (got one... actually using it?), rain coats (have umbrella) and cyclo rides to get our big lazy western tourist selves back to town. Funnily enough, didn’t need anything and trundled home quite happily via the War Museum. Must say they have a somewhat flawed business model since you can either pay to go in and look at the tanks, planes and helicopters, or, not pay and walk along the foot path and look a the tanks, planes and helicopters. We enjoyed seeing all the houses built into the back of the wall encircling the citadel, misty rivers and back streets then over the bridge and back to the hotel.
Mission accomplished - stuffed again. Barely enough energy to have a spa and a snooze - before wrangling the bags back in order for our train trip tomorrow to Hanoi. We spent the evening, as one does, having dinner then perambulating the ‘walking streets’ of central Hue where scooters are banned from about 5 pm on the weekends. Anything involving ‘no scooters’ has turned into relaxation incarnate. Onwards and upwards - or at least northwards - Hanoi here we come!