Hue: the Imperial Palace
So. Hue. The big tourist attraction in Hue is the Imperial City, which is the first place we headed. Well, the first place we headed after checking into our really nice hotel, which I highly recommend if you have the spare dongs (Remember, the dong is the official currency of Vietnam.)(What did you think I was talking about?)(Really?)(You have more than one?) It was called La Residence, and is a palatial, colonial-style place that sits right on the river. It was also really empty when we first checked in. Eerily so, as as matter of fact. Like for 45 minutes or so I didn't see a guest--just a lot of staff members standing around waiting to ... well, wait on us.
You'd think that would be nice, but it really wasn't, since I felt like we were always being watched. Mostly becuase we were, but you know what I mean. And really, it didn't work out to our advantage. For example, when we were sitting around the pool (before going to the Imperial City) I felt sorry for the guy at the bar, so I went up an ordered a beer (for myself) and a mojito (for the missus--and yes, it was on the drink list). While it did involve some pointing (Mo-hee-toe), the ordering part of the transaction went well. After that, however, things started to go wrong. Turns out, the guy was just the (somewhat old) pool boy, so he had to run inside and get the bartender, who then had to come outside to make our drink. And there wasn't any rum out in the bar, so poolboy/man had run inside to get it. And the poolboy/man couldn't find the right glass for the mojito, so the bartender yelled at him. About five minutes later we had our drinks, but poolboy/man mysteriously disappeared for the next 30 minutes or so--that is, for as long as we were out by the pool. I can't say I blame him.
(Side note: Is it ironic or just weirdly post-modern that I was reading about the incredibly bloody battle of Hue, which took place in and around the Citadel during the Tet Offensive, while sitting around the infinity pool in a really nice hotel, drinking a beer and looking up across the river at said Citadel? I can't decide. Or maybe it's just in bad taste?)
But moving on. The first touristy place we went was the Imperial Palace, which was built for the emporer (duh) in the early 1800s and is the city's big tourist attraction. On the whole, my reaction to the entire place was a hearty MEH. (That's MEH as in "whatever," in case there's any confusion.) Before showing up, I knew that the place had been very heavily damaged during the Tet Offensive, so I was expecting that; however, what I didn't know was that the palace was basically just a smaller copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, which I went to like 10 times while living in Beijing. So besides being mostly blown apart, Hue's Imperial Palace was basically a poor man's Forbidden City. Hence my reaction.
(Side note: For pictures of Beijing's Forbidden City, see my half-assed flickr page.)
However, it wasn't all bad. On the plus side, it was much more colorful than the Forbidden City (those Chinese emporers REALLY liked red ...), which was nice. Plus, it was much less crowded than the Forbidden City, which was a relief. Although now that I think about it, there wasn't any Starbucks--as there is in the Forbidden City--which was too bad, since it was like 100 degrees and humid and I could have really used a frappuccino. Quel dommage.
Anyway, the point is that if you happen to be in Hue and you haven't been to the Forbidden City in Beijing more times than you can conveniently remember (well la-de-da for me), you should definitely check out the Imperial City. Or you can just look at the pictures below and decide for youself, with a minimum of commentary. Whether that's because I've already rambled on enough, or because the pictures are so great they speak for themselves, or because I don't really remember what the pictures show so I don't have anything else to say about them, you can decide for yourself. But if I were you, I'd lean toward the last answer ...
Okay, a little commentary: this is the inside of the throne room. Why is this important? Because you're not supposed to take pictures inside the building, so you're unlikely to see many shots like this. And for the record, I am not one of those annoying tourists (AKA jackasses) who takes pictures of whatever/whomever they want and don't care what anyone says: we came in a side door and there was only one "No Pictures" sign, which was, of course, by the front door.
This is a close-up of a wall screen:
It's me! This is one of the ruined, bombed-out parts, for the record. You know, in case you couldn't tell that it was ruined based on the crumbling stone, lack of paint, and general ... ruined look it has:
Even more from Hue next time!Previously, on my vacation:
- Hue: the Streets.- Halong Bay: the Videos. - Halong Bay. - Hanoi: the Random. - Hanoi: Water Puppets. - Hanoi: the "Hilton." - Hanoi: the People. - Hanoi: Zoom, Zoom. - Hanoi: the Streets.