Top things to do in Hue
Hello again. I assumed you have already read my First Impressions of Hue and today I'm going to share with you two historical sites that I visited fifteen mornings ago.
You see, Hue is rich in history and a few days wouldn't be enough to over all the beautiful and significant sites of the this ancient city. Indeed, this is one of Vietnam's most touristy spots given it has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. Just by scanning through every place I had been to, I'd say the majority of the tourists were Europeans who were travelling in big groups aging 50 and above, followed by young couples in their mid 20s or 30s and very few solo travelers.
With the pink bus, I toured Hue together with other tourists from different corners of the globe. The guide first introduced The Citadel. He was like a walking Wikipedia of Hue but he talked a bit too fast; I could hardly remember all he'd said. What is still vivid to me was when repeatedly said that the kings had one wife and four hundred ninety-nine concubines; followed with a smirk! I'm sure he was exaggerating; there might have been lots but not that number!
Now let's talk about the morning excursions:
I remembered the Angkors temples as I entered the Citadel's gate. A Very old structure that would leave anyone in awe with its intrinsic details of architecture. I don't know, seeing something ancient is always a treasure because it is a treasure. I imagined how many soldiers marched in and out of this gate with their horses or elephants and then I also thought how many tourists had walked in and out of this cultural heritage.
Then I saw the flag pole and I thought that was all I came for. But then there was another entrance, the entrance to the 'Forbidden City'. Just by its enchanting name, you'd want to dash and go there already. There were so many doors and windows and passages. It's a great vast of land and there was a lot of people still rebuilding Hue's museum! I took 200 photos inside and I had forgotten about the time (again).
I ran outside and well, not the first, I was the last one to be back on the bus. It has been a very bad habit, well, can we blame the ancient city for taking my time?
Thien Mu Pagoda
Less than 10 minutes on the bus and we arrived in another tourist attraction. This has got to be the most beautiful and interesting pagoda - Thien Mu Pagoda that I had ever been to! This is just along the banks of Perfume River and it is surrounded with pine trees. I didn't climb up the steps right away; I wanted to see the pagoda from below while I was catching my breath by the riverbank. I saw the colorful boats and there were vendors selling souvenirs that we could take with us.
I took the steps, pausing every now and then, observing, looking, then taking snaps of the river and of the very tall pagoda. The inner and outer views are just breathtaking.
I didn't listen to the guide anymore as he shared the history of the place as I knew I wouldn't have time to explore more of the place if I had to stop. I could just go ask him whenever I have questions, although I didn't.
Then I saw the car which would tell the story about Thích Quảng Đức, a Buddhist monk who immolated himself as a way to preserve and protect Buddhism in Vietnam. Images of the monk writing on something and a heart on the left wall and behind the car was an image of the day the monk burned himself. I thought, this was the most striking image and information I had gathered in that pagoda that would remain in my mind for long.
Of course, I was late again for the bus. This time on the bus, as we headed to the next destination, the guide announced more than twice not to be late again. That was the most embarrassing;-) And yes, I'd guarantee you this- I was on my best behavior in the afternoon and was never late again...on that day!
Cover photo by: Lê Dũng