Boating up the Perfume River

Hue Travel Blog

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The boat trip began from the harbour on Song Huong (The Perfume River).  Funnily enough we saw a couple we’d met on the junk in Halong Bay on board and so we all sat together.  The boat set off for the fishing village, and then for the Kung Fu Temple.  This looked quite interesting and our guide told us that the fighters channel a force mentally to exert a maximum energy where it is required i.e. a fist; a foot; a head.


They started the show by individually jumping around with a weapon of choice such as a sword or stick.  Their level of skill didn’t impress me that much until a girl took the stage swirling a sword around.  The blade rotated around her barely more than an inch away from her body at all times!


The next show was the one-on-one performance.  Each combatant had a weapon to fend themselves with, and short, rehearsed fight would follow.  It was very Kill Bill/Matrix Esq. and was entertaining.  These guys clearly knew their stuff and could put on a show. 


Next up was the stacks of tiles.  The guy took his time, breathing in and out, channelling the force through him, until eventually he punched his way through the tiles with a single blow.  Ok, that’s not a great achievement, but the performers started to rack some fresh tiles and another guy stepped up, once again channelling the forces.  He went through them all in one go again, but this time he had used his head!  I was thinking about testing his coherency with a conversation after that, but I thought, no too cocky. 


The finale was disgusting!  Two bamboo sticks with blades attached to the end were shown to be able to pierce a stationary wooden block.  These same sticks were then used as props as a guy nested them into his throat and leant forward bowing the sticks!  If that wasn’t bad enough, on holding that position, he drank a glass of milk to allow the throat movement – nutter!


With that, it was time to get back on the boat and head further up the river to Thien Mu Pagoda.  This was only a short stop to allow everyone to take a few photos and visit another proud landmark. 


Minh Mang’s temple was the next stop.  He was one of Vietnam’s Emperors during the Nguyen dynasty, and his temple was impressive!


The Nguyen era started in 1802 and finished in 1945.  Each emperor during that reign has his own temple and they are all dotted along, or in close proximity to, the river.

  These are superbly preserved temples and has helped Hue in no small measure to achieve it status as a UNESCO World Heritage City. 


The temple itself is split into little castle-like grounds and function rooms.  For instance, there is a prayer room, living quarters for the emperor and his (many) wives, and sleeping quarters for the wives and servants.  Statues of warriors and elephants are positioned around the temples as well, and these were said to protect the emperor in the after-life.


Following Minh Mang’s elaborate temple, we visited Tu Duc’s temple (we actually went to another one before this, but we gave it a skip).  This was to be the last stop of the boat tour, but was certainly worth a visit.  In a description, it would be much the same as Minh Man’s, but when you’re there, you can see why both are worth seeing.


Steph had left today to go on to Nha Trang and then to Manila (via Sai Gon), so myself and Lori met up with Wayne for dinner and a few drinks.  Lori was a bit tired, but I was quite pleased to catch up fully with Wayno, and this meant us both getting smashed on gin and tonic whilst playing Jenga and pool with the locals.  It was a fun night and was the first time I’d been properly drunk since Vang Vieng.  I don’t know how, but it’s always the same when I get with Wayne.  We called it a night, and I managed to get lost despite only staying around the corner and I do believe Wayne got mugged.  I’m not at all sure of what happened though.

lovely_lori88 says:
slowly catching up on your blog!!
Posted on: Nov 02, 2009
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photo by: Paulovic