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Hue - Dragonboat ride on the Perfumed River

Hue Travel Blog

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Fishing

Another breakfast of banana pancakes with chocolate - love this country - before heading to the travel office and hitching a motorcycle ride down to the boat jetty. We hopped on one of the legendary dragonboats and settled down to a convenient day's floating sight-seeing. I wasn't feeling my best today so staring wistfully out at the green jungle, terraced farm fields, banana palms and eucalypt was about all I was up to.

 

After half an hour we jumped off at the Thien Mu Pagoda, before heading off to the Tu Duc tomb, final resting place to Emperor Tu Duc and still a home for practicing Buddhists. See the mini Buddhists at Buddhist school! To reach this we drove through the conical hat and incense making village, but since there were no demonstrations about how they are made we didn't stop.

Dragon boats

 

When we returned, tables were set up on the boat for lunch but we had just enough time to squeeze in the Hon Chen temple before we ate. They had warned us lunch (included in the $5 price of the trip) would be small but in fact it was perfectly adequate. We had steamed rice with gingered tofu, and cabbage and onion vermicelli noodles. Cans of drinks were left on the table seemingly as part of the meal but later we were asked to pay - cheeky!

 

After lunch I jumped off to see the Tomb of Minh Mang, who ruled from 1820 to 1840.

Perfumed River
It is a beautiful place, which each part of the tomb being set apart on a stepped plinth, so you walk up to the tomb, through, and down the steps again to a new part of the tomb complex which is prettily framed by steps and water. Zoe jumped out at the next tomb, Khai Dinh while I 'guarded' the boat (snoozed), before we drove for an hour back along the river. Fortunately by now the sun had peeked out a little so the fishing boats and sand-dredgers were so prettily set off by the sparkling water.

 

I read Catfish and Mandala at the beginning of the 10 days and Andrew Pham says it so poignantly when he writes "Here, look at this, sir. Here is our National Monument. Very big. Very important to Vietnamese. You impressed? No, not so big?"...."I know they've got bigger monuments in their countries. Older, more important. What do our little things mean to them?" It's important to remember when sight-seeing in Vietnam that many of their historical buildings were made of wood, so they have not survived well to the present day.

Ming Mang temple (part of it anyway)
That's why I presume Hoi An is a world heritage site, because so many of the old houses are in good condition. Many of the monuments, pagodas and temples are run down, dilapidated, with peeling paint and rotting wood. Rubble sits outside in piles, dragon-adorned roofs are supported by steel poles. Statues are covered with mould and moss, or have petrified into black rot. It is sometimes difficult to avoid that feeling of anti-climax, when we have seen pictures of spectacular Chinese temples and rainbow-coloured earthquake-defying pagodas that tower in the sky and we are faced by these sad old buildings with their cracking stone. But it is important to remember that it is always amazing that these things are still standing, and that they represent another time, another era of life when Emperor's ruled and Vietnam wasn't a poor country war-ravaged by the French, the Americans and the Cambodians. So much of what we see in Vietnam is coloured by these wars, so it was good today to spend some time seeing a history that precedes the most recent memories.

 

Quick bite to eat at Cafe on Thu Wheels (conveniently right opposite our hotel) before we caught the sleeper bus to Hanoi.

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Fishing
Fishing
Dragon boats
Dragon boats
Perfumed River
Perfumed River
Ming Mang temple (part of it anywa…
Ming Mang temple (part of it anyw…
Hue
photo by: Paulovic