Just arrived in Hue by bus from Dalat to Nha Trang then overnight train. Update soon!
Hue is renowned for it's wet weather and it's own peculiar climate, and it certainly rained while we were there. However, it's also renowned as the ancient and royal capital of Vietnam. After HCMC and Dalat we enjoyed getting back into some culture and less recent history. The Citadel and, more significantly, the Purple Forbidden City (which was set out on similar lines to the Forbidden City in Beijing) is in quite poor state of repair, due of course to age but mostly due to damage in the French and American wars. It was good to wander around and imagine how it was in its heyday. Some buildings are being restored. Hope these restoratations last longer than those done in the last twenty years.
We also took a boat trip on the Perfume River. This is where Vietnam seemed to become hard work for us. No sooner were we on the boat as a captive duo, than the sales pitch started: we were 'offered' lunch, postcards, statuettes, paintings, silks, drinks - all the way through the trip! We also had to work hard negotiating the sites we wanted to visit and how long we stopped at each one. But it turned out to be a really interesting trip. It's one that recommended in the guide books and it's certainly well worth doing. When Hue was the capital, the emperors all had their tombs built along the Perfume River. We visited the tombs of Tu Duc and Minh Mang and were bowled over by their size, magnificence and settings. On the way back we stopped at the Thien Mu Pagoda (an Vietnamese icon) set right on the riverbank. We got talking to a guy and, as usual, we exchanged travel plans. This is the first time we've been thoroughly upstaged! Ludovic (Hubler - www.ludovichubler.com) is in the final stages of a 5-year hitch-hiking journey around the world!! He told us where he'd been and how he had got across the seas by working and crewing his passage on cargo ships and sailing yachts. Have a look at his website (there's an English language link).
Since arriving in Asia Margaret's eyes have constantly been drawn to the wonderful silk clothes. Vietnam is the first country that seems to have added a bit of style and the shops in Hue were filled with things 'buyable' - well, according to M's personal shopper (for those of you who may not know, that's Eric). She couldn't resist two outfits and a pair of shoes. Don't know when she'll have the opportunity to wear them, but they are lovely and may star in future photo albums!