Asian Wonders # 10: A Day in Hue. (Rhymes with away)

Remember I told you I am looking for nine dragons? Why, Why not? So here is dragon # 2

After one and one half hours of driving through the most interesting countryside, dotted with rice patties and one village after another, we arrived in Hue (the former capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynast of emperors from 1802 until 1945. Hue is a beautiful town with many lovely buildings.

A special day to be driving because it was a Sunday and all the little towns had their market day. The whole village was out selling or buying. What an array of items being sold. What an array of people buying. What a crowd. We passed a funeral. The mourning woman was dressed in white and the procession of monks and musicians passed in front of her, then she came walking and  all of her friends and relatives brought up the rear.

After an hour and a half of looking out of the window you get a stiff neck, but aside from that, you get some ideas.  Street after street you see run down patched homes, dirt streets, poverty, and beyond shabby, dilapidated, worn out, poorly maintained, and the barest essentials of all manner of life passing by your window, but every ten blocks or so, you see a place of business selling gowns, ball gowns, elegant dresses to wear for very special occasions. The dichotomy is so fascinating. The Vietnamese are very fashionable and do dress up to walk in the dirt and mud in their fancy stylish shoes.

This day was spent in and around the 17th parallel, the Demilitarized Zone in Central Vietnam. They have the philosophy that you close your mind to the past so that you can think of the future. In the area of Hue there are bigger, longer tunnels where people lived for years. Remember the Vietnamese are no strangers to fighting for their independence. The were dominated by the Chinese for 1,000 years, by the Japanese for a much shorter period of time by the French and then came along the Americans trying to unify the country. It was pointed out that the government has a great hold on the people now. They tax them on everything, try to govern their lives as much as possible and where the government ends, the corruption begins. Wow.

We first visited the Forbidden City, then a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, which is on the riverbank of the Perfume River. It is a beautiful Pagoda having seven floors that make up the tower of the Pagoda. The river is named the Perfume River because in days long ago, boatloads of fresh beautiful smelling flowers were delivered to the city from the river, therefore, named the Perfume River alluding to the wonderful smells of the flowers.

In front of the Pagoda, we boarded a Dragon Boat for a ride down the river to the local Dong Ba Market where we bargained for precious junk. We all did get some things and bargaining is fun, until they take over and they are really in your face.  This is a matter of their survival and they see you as what they need. Glad we were with our guide. We did not need him, but nice to have a back up.

Scenes from the Market:




We were treated to a special lunch and  all of the dishes of food were presented in such an unusual and beautiful way.  I have photographed some of  the presentations so that you would be able to enjoy the presentations as well.

When we came out of the restaurant we saw cows roaming the side streets. Cows are loved and raised to eat!.

I had seen some Water Buffalo on the way into Hue and asked the guide if there could be a way for him to stop so we could photograph water buffalos.  He promised if he saw them on our way back he would stop.  True to his word he stopped and asked who would like to go. Just me. I got a little stop-on-the-road private tour. We had to cross the hugely busy street and he was the expert who got the job done.  Once across the street we had to walk down the road, down an embankment and you have living proof of my slightly off the beaten track adventure. Oh I was so happy and I am so lucky!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dina
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 12:33:57

    Dearest Mother,
    As I sit here, at lunch, in my classroom awaiting the arrival of my 35 well-fed students, I am completely inspired and motivated by your words and pictures. I am going to show them your blog when they return from lunch. Yes, we are in the middle of a math lesson they must master before their test next week, but who cares!!!! How else do we learn about ourselves, but to understand the lives of others?
    I am now feeling a little guilty for thinking that traveling might not have been the best idea for you and dad right now. Mostly selfish reasons. Thank you for enlightening my global awareness….and in a few minutes 35 children will have a bit more understanding of it too.
    Love and miss you so much!


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 16:22:20

      35 students. What are they trying to do kill the teahers? As I enlighten your global awareness, I enlighten my own.It is for you and the family I write and a few lovely friends. I am so happy you are reading and sharing with your children, my grandchildren.


  2. Gary Friedman
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 00:53:15

    Hey, Sheila!! These are wonderful – when do you have time to write these when you’re on the road? 1000 years of Chinese rule? “Happyland”???? (I kind of wanted to see pictures of that…)

    Please keep the pictures and stories coming!!! -GF


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 16:20:36

      I would have given a lot to see Happyland myself. We were on our way and I screamed,”Stop the bus,” but since I did that a lot they didn’t pay any attention to me. We did see the lanes leading up to it and the lanes were decorated with little roof like stands were kind of our of place, so imagine how Happy Land must have looked. Out of place.Thank you for reading!!!!


  3. Alvira
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 12:32:52

    Dear Sheila!
    I am so happy you were able to go to this trip. Vietnam is one of the places I really want to visit and reading your experience make me want to go there even more.
    The pictures are beautiful and I love those descriptions… Thank you for sharing.


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 16:23:24

      Alvira, you will go on this trip and many many more. You are the kind of woman who does not sit around and wait for anything to come to your door. YOu go out and get it. Go girl, go.


  4. Reene
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 22:36:06

    This is so beautiful. I caught up with your blogs and now I look forward to the next. I remember the beautiful market place and “pharmacy” in Hong Kong with the strange coctions for health. I remember the jars or seahorses. What a wonderful experience you are having.
    We met for lunch and all talked about your blog and how much we enjoy reading them. Love, Reeen


    • Sheila Clapkin
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 16:24:41

      I am so happy the girls are enjoying the blogs, too. It is sometimes an effort to ward off the blurry eyes and the sleep, but I want to tell you some of the things I have seen. I know they say I see things through rose colored glasses, and I do.


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