Hue is a lovely city set on a River and the town is decorated in national flags to celebrate Liberation day- the end of the war for independance from the french in 1954. We booked a car and driver to take us to visit the royal tombs that are dotted around outside of the city. Hue was the ancient capital of Vietnam and many emperors from the 18th and 19th centuries built lovely palaces and tombs in the area. The first one we visit has several buildings set around a river and surrounded by woods- a very peaceful spot. The buildings are Chinese in style, with glazed roof tiles, wooden doors and shutters and courtyards in the centre. The other tombs are on the same theme but with varying decor and design. Our favorite is Minh Mong's tomb laid out in beautiful gardens.
We booked a trip to visit the Vinh Moc tunnels on the 3rd and our guide for the day was Mr Vinh, a veteran of the Vietnam war (they call it the American war here). Mr Vinh is great, he's 69 year old and still keen for us to understand what happened 40 years ago. He checks that WE don't have any heart conditions before he takes into the tunnels! Mr Vinh was an interpreter for the Americans and spent six months in the re-education camps at the end of the war, his wife didn't know whêre he was and assumed he was dead. Tough times, but he seems happy with his lot. The Vinh Moc tunnels are located in the demilitarised zone between north and south Vietnam, sadly this no man's land became a war zone as both the Viet Cong and US fought over it. The tunnels were dug to hide a complete village from the US nighttime bombing raids. The tunnels protected 60 families and have a toilet, bathroom, kitchen, well, even a maternity where 18 babies were born underground. The tunnels run for 2kms and are not big enough for Craig to stand and all of the rooms are tiny. Dug into clay with no pit props, the tunnels haven't collapsed in forty years! Very interesting visit. We also visited a school and church that have been left as they were at the end of the war, potmarked with bullets holes and bomb damage. There are lots of cemeteries in the area for the Viet Cong and N Vietnamese soldiers, the defeated Southern Vietnamese soldiers have no cemeteries which seems rather mean. All part of the reeducation?
We enjoyed Hue, the old citadel is interesting even though it was heavily bombed by both the French and Americans and only a few buildings remain. We found some good restaurants and enjoyed our luxury hotel. Next stop Hoi An, by bus as we couldn't get a train ticket.
Love C & V.