The Citadel & Royal Enclosure
Hue Travel Blog› entry 79 of 117 › view all entries
Before heading up the coast to Hue from Hoi An, the usual four had a mini bar-crawl along the riverside. The draught beers were 3,000 dong - or about 9p - so it seemed a little rude if we didn't. After a big meal, though, the drinks weren't flowing as freely as we had imagined, and it wasn't long before the cultural extravaganza that became known as 'Pissed Off A Pound' was as dead in the water as some of the stuff we could see floating by.
Finding accommodation in Hue proved no problem. One of our guidebooks, published in '95, seemed to suggest that finding anything other than a mattress on the floor was impossible. It seems things quickly change, and after being harrassed by loads of touts after getting off our bus, I was able to negotiate a room with air-con, a TV and a fridge for about three quid a night.
That night we feasted on pizza (the first I had had for about five months).
Wanting to avoid the blazing midday heat, I arose early(ish) and headed towards the 10km-perimeter citadel in the city centre. Within that is the Imperial Enclosure, a citadel within a citadel, with four large gates. Inside are reception rooms and halls used for court ceremonies. At the rear is the Forbidden Purple City, an area only used by the emperor, now almost entirely destroyed during the Tet Offensive. Also at the rear is the Dien Tho Residence, containing apartments and audience halls of the Queen Mothers of the Nguyen dynasty.
It's made for a very relaxing walking tour, with photo opportunites at every turn. All of the building work is, unsurprisingly, very grand. It was also surprisingly peaceful - with not that many other tourists walking the grounds.
I bumped into a couple I had met in HCMC and joined them in a walk further north of the city towards the two lakes, Tinh Tam and Tang Tau. The first was so unimpressive that we decided to bail on the second; it looked like a large rice paddy more than a lake. Declining the offer to get a taxi back to the backpacker district where we were staying, I found a park where I bought some lychees off an old lady's carriage. As soon as I started devouring my feast, I had cyclo drivers pestering me. One guy wouldn't leave me alone, and after he had shown me his family who were nearby, I agreed to let him take me back to my hotel. Once we got back, however, he proclaimed, as they nearly always do, that he didn't have change. After asking all the shops/hotels on the street if they had smaller money without luck, I said to him I wasn't looking any more and he could sort it out. Sure enough, his wallet came out with, surprise surprise, the exact change. The crafty...