The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

The return of around the World - Hué, The Imperial City

Due to technical problems I stopped in the middle of my tour, tales and travels through SE Asia. I have now got my act together and got rid of the gremlins, so let us without further ado return to where I left off, the leaving Hoi An.

From Hoi An to Hué – The Imperial City.

Well I had paid my hostelry dues to the ladies in the tailors shop the evening before and so it was still dark when I slipped out through the postern gate at the side of the shop. I was off to catch the bus to Hué my next stop on my journey northwards.
I had read quite a bit about this centre of the Nguyen  Dynasty, which ruled much of what is now known as Vietnam   from the late 1700s until 1945, when the last of the feudal Emperors abdicated.  In between (in 1883) the French colonial powers, took control over the area, by gunboat diplomacy, they sent a fleet up the Sông Huöng Giang (the perfumed river) and bombarded the city into submission.   The then Emperor Hiep Hoa  signed a  treaty, this gave the French occupying forces and later their civilian government the influence over the Imperial Vietnamese court, making Vietnam a Protectorate of France.

The Second World War changed a lot of that, after the defeat of the Japanese (who had found it to their advantage to keep a pseudo feudal system in place), the French thought they would just walk straight back in and take over where they had left off, but the Vietnamese Communists had other ideas. After the last Emperor Bao Dai had abdicated in 1945, the communist took control of most of the countryside, the peasants had had enough of being told what to do by the Falange and the Vietminh aided by supplies from their “brothers” in the North, whipped their arses, culminating in the defeat of Dien Bien Phu  and this sounded the death knell of their influence in SE Asia. But alas was the bugle call for an even worse perpetrator of injustice (under the cloak of Democracy), the United States of America, to come and bomb, poison, maim and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
In the end, as is always inevitable, the invaders retreated (defeated in the field, though always proclaiming “we are winning”) leaving behind a vassal government in Sia Gon under President Nguyen Van Thieu, that was supposed to carry on propping up the lie with massive US aid. But the words were written on the subway walls and the government of fell relatively quickly, the final blow coming at 10:45 on the 30th April 1975 when a T54 tank smashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace.
Reunification came quickly, the city of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the father of Vietnamese  fight against imperialist rule, the Capital became Ha Noi and Hué became a small provincial capital.
One other piece of information, that you may wish to know, was that after the TET offensive of 1968, with the very heart of this city being blown out of existence by the bombs from the B52, this city, seen by many in the years following the reunification, as a symbol of the feudal past so very little was done to repair the damaged Palace. It is only in the past 10 years that with the help of international aid that some of the treasures of the past are being brought to their former glory, though some that are in a very bad state have been left as a warning to mankind.
So that is a small bit of history about the reunification of Vietnam and the history of Hué, but now back to my bus journey, I had walked around the corner to the Bus office, only to find it shuttered and barred, out of business? I thought. I walked to a small coffee stall (on wheels) as there were a few men sitting on those small stools at small tables drinking coffee, I recognised one of the men as being from the office and he spoke a passable English (far better than my unpassable Vietnamese). I asked when the office opened, he said between 07: 30 and 07:45 (it was not even 07:00) I asked him when the bus came, to Hué, he replied, about 08:00. I know all about these about 08:00 busses by now.
He said sit here and have a coffee, which I did, I watched as the people came and went either drinking coffee (always with a free cup of weak Vietnamese tea) or eating a bowl of breakfast.
I would have loved to shared have a bowl or two with them but I never eat when traveling, as due to being forced by diabetes into taking tablets that make for unannounced bowl movements at the most inopportune times , I always lay in a fast day when traveling.
The Hoi An to Hué bus

Hoi An bus station
At last someone came, opened up the office and then things started to move, other passengers started to arrive and the chap that I recognised from yesterday said just wait there and I will let you know when the bus comes. This he did he came and said come with me, a sleeper coach had just pulled in and was being cleaned, it had discharged quite a bit of its human cargo of back packers (you can recognise them quiet easily, bleary eyes and milling around a pile of back and front packs), wondering which way to go.  I was able to point a few in the direction of the tailors shop, it is always good to help fellow travellers in their hour of need.
My chap, from the office, ushered me onto the coach and I was shown to a freshly made up liege the rest were loaded on board, and off we went on the road to Hué.

I had had a most enjoyable time in Hoi An and it is a place well worth a visit, in fact I would say a must if traveling (by whatever means) down route 1.

It is nice to travel during the day, I know that a lot of backpackers, tend to like the evening busses as they mean this saves them having to pay for a night in a hotel, hostel or guesthouse, but I like to see where I am going and look at the changing scenery of the landscape and villages.
Hoi An is not far from Da Nang , this was the most Northerly base that was used by the Americans and the scene of the landings made under the auspices of being invited by the South Vietnamese Government. The landing was quite farcical, it was strange to see fully kitted out marines in combat paraphernalia, dodging through rows of tourists in bathing gear and click, clicking photographers. It didn't go down well with the US military high command who wanted a more surreptitious arrival to aid their lackeys.   The Americans of course were already here in quite large numbers as trainers at the Da Nang air base which was where their Friends the RVAJ were bombing the North from, in a war that the USA didn’t acknowledge as existing.

After passing the Marble Mountains just visible (I was originally going to stop off at Da nang with the express view of visiting them and the not too distant temple site of My Son one of the Champa sites. It is on my must do list for my next visit).

You pass the old Air Base, still with its HAS’s (Hardened Aircraft Shelters) quite visible from the road, its perimeter walls and air traffic control tower now being put to a more humane use, controlling the civilian flights that are now bringing the tourists to the monstrous hotel complexes arising out of the sand along the once pristine beaches.
A Hardened Aircraft Shelter

Outer perimeter wall

Some new development

A rather nice hotel to welcome the GIs back and their Yankee $

Another high rise development

Danang itself spans the Han River, we crossed the Dragon Bridge, on the way to the bus station to set down some passengers, mainly aged Americans returning with their wives to see what is left, I do hope they behaved themselves this time,  we also picked up parcels for onward transport to Huè.

We passed that infamous invasion beach still with the beach umbrellas (snigger, snigger)

Then out along the seafront, finely crossing the bridge that signals the end of Da Nang.

The rest journey was quite pleasant it follows the coast for most of the way and due to the new tunnel that is being built; the twisting, turning coastal road no longer winds through the pass over the mountains and will soon be thing of the past. But we joined the long snaking tail of busses and lorries.

Next a stop at one of the many wayside bus food places, handy for a visit to the toilet (do not expect a flush, a hole in the ground, a concrete water tank with a plastic bowl the rest is left to you.

These mountains (North and South of Hué) are the cause of Hué inclement weather, the damp cold mountain air is funnelled down onto the coastal plain, this makes it very good for paddy fields and just to prove it on arrival it was raining.

The railway line that once traversed the shore line precariously hanging to the cliffs (at times not) has now been diverted through a tunnel, this now cuts down the time from Da nang quite considerably.

But before getting into Hué you have a great view down to the coast with its small fishing villages and duck farms.


It was still quite early as the bus was being discharged outside the stop off, a gaggle of guest house hustlers were there as normal, trying to get your business, I was approached by a young (ish)lady asking was I looking for a guesthouse, replying in the affirmative and then asking where it was she replied you are standing outside of it, come and have a look and see if you like it, asking the price, $10 was the reply (this seems to be the standard price throughout Vietnam for backpacker single accommodation), some have hot showers, some just cold, this had hot, room clean and not too much mould on the walls. So I decided this would do me nicely, it was very central. This was Hong Thien 2 part of the government run guest house chain.

I dropped off my larger backpack and then shouldering my small one (contains all of my important things, like documents, electrical ware etc.) I headed along Thua Thien down towards the river which I believed to be the Sông Huöng (the Perfumed River) the main river through Hué that leads to the sea. I of course took the wrong river and the wrong bridge; something’s never change do they.

But I walked across the bridge and passing fishing boats and vendors selling river snails straight from their boats.

I walked a further 500 mtrs and realised I was not outside the Imperial Palace, my intended destination, but in a district of tailors, cobblers and other small artisan workplaces, I stopped at a small eating house went in to ask the way (I did have a map of sorts), they said (gestured) to my question of which way was the Palace, in the direction from whence I had come. Well I had a look at the picture menu and what was cooking, I could see some fish being cooked, I indicated I would like to have some of that, I was plonked at a table, Vietnamese tea was brought (it always is) and I asked for a bottle of water (I always do), first came a clear broth (it always does), then came the fish served with rice and a very tasty sauce. I do enjoy a good piece of fish when it is cooked well, this was and very nice indeed.

I paid my few dong, thanked the restaurateur and retraced my steps along the street this time turning right and along the correct river. I passed Dragon boats offering me a trip on the river, I thanked them and with a polite hands together and a knick of the head and a no, I plodded on my way to the bridge that crosses over the river at this point.

You can see the direction of the Imperial city from a long way off, as at the riverside of it is a massive redoubt crowned with a very large flag pole upon which fluttered the red flag with the yellow star. This is the main way in to the walled moated city, I of course didn’t go this way (why take the easy route when you can take the hard one). I crossed a bridge and through a small entrance gate and was in (or so I thought). Well I was inside the outer walls but not the main citadel, but to make up for this I was right beside the museum of captured American war materials, aircraft both fixed and rotary winged, tanks, self-propelled  and towed guns.

Many of the outer buildings of the Forbidden City, that once housed the mandarins, their families, concubines and vassals have now been turned into various museums and schools, these unlike the inner City have been restored and are now fully in use.

Walking further towards the inner Forbidden City you cross another moat this led to a very ornamental gateway, this thought I was the entrance, well that thought was wrong, totally wrong, it may have been a way in, in the past, but in these days of commercial socialism, it was the way out. But I took a few pictures just in case it was my only chance.

The only way in was through a main entrance at the other side, the paying entrance. I was somewhat disillusioned with my day’s orientation; I had taken quite a few wrong turns. As it was getting late and they would soon be packing up the Imperial city for the night, I thought I would toodle back to the hotel and return in the morning.
On the way back I walked along the river bank, passing the original water gate entrance to the Citadel and then crossing the bridge passed the place that had been the French Governor’s residence.

There was also a large sculpture park on the grass between the river bank and the boulevard; there were some very interesting pieces.

Again passing the dragon boats, and with a hands together and a bow of the head passed quickly by. The road was also lined with flower sellers, making the most of St Valentine’s day offering posies of flowers and hearts of roses to any that would buy (I suppose it would only be tourists).

I arrived back at the road that led to the hotel; at the corner of the road was a small shop selling silk and other goods. I stood and looked at the goods, I needed some long trousers, I only had 1 pair with me and these were now decidedly seedy. I was enticed in by two smiling young lasses, to try some on, I bought 2 pairs, one pair of thicker ones (the weather had turned cool and I could smell rain in the air), the other was a pair of backpacker cotton baggy ones, tied around the middle type. I also looked at the silk scarves, called I believe Peshawar’s in technical terms, these I needed for girly presents for back home. I did haggle a little, but in the end did not buy them.

Walking a little further I came to a nice looking bar/restaurant called the Hot Tuna, I had actually had a beer there sitting on the patio, before I had left on my afternoons journey of discovery. I was at once recognised and called to have another, this I did, I was asked if I fancied eating, I decided on a small snack and had these exquisite shrimp rice pancakes steamed in cassava leaves(Bdnh Nâm), this was followed by a prawn and pork curry Hué style (Tôm thit rim kiéu Hué style) well you do have to try the local food, don't you?


I had a walk around downtown and along then along riverbank, visiting a shopping mall to use an ATM, this is across the river at the more modern side of the tracks. I was a bit foot weary so I headed back to hotel and had a little nap (well that afternoon had been a long journey of turns, returns and missed turns), it was getting dark when I awoke so decided it was time to shower and head off for a bite to eat.

I returned to the Hot Tuna as the menu looked very nice with lots of local dishes on it. I was greeted at the entrance by the same chap that had enticed me to have a beer that afternoon, it was still early and most of the tables were empty, I picked a nice table that overlooked the street and was adjacent to the small souvenir shop attached to the restaurant.
A young waitress came and presenting the menu asked did I want a drink, I ordered a Hanoi beer and off she went, she returned and asked if I had found anything to my liking. Well I had and I asked her if I could have the spring rolls filled with pork mince, mushrooms and shredded vegetables Hué style as a starter (Nem Rán Kiéu Hué) and Grilled duck with lemon grass and chilli (Vit Nuông sà ôt).

These of course came both served together, in SE Asia there are no courses, everything comes together and it is left up to you in what order or any order you wish to eat them, very civilised I must admit. I had a chat with my young waitress who I had found out was called Lyn, she spoke excellent  English and made a wonderful translator between the chef and I as I enquired what, how and ingredients of what I was eating. The chef had no qualms of initiating me into the mysteries of his art.
I shall be writing a cookbook about my travels, so these and the rest of the mystique of the food eaten along my road will be revealed in that.

We had a very good time with much laughing and joking (I believe much of it at my expense, due to my more than inaccurate pronunciation of the Vietnamese). I then asked Lin what could one do on a night time in Hué, she said just around the corner was a bar with music that went on into the early music, but in the area was also many different clubs and bars catering for all types, I with a smile said I wasn't one of those all types. This brought a giggle and with a shaking of here head said no, no Mr Richie, I didn’t mean that you are that type. Phew glad I got that sorted out!

I also enquired as to a guided tour, she said I know just the one, it covers the Forbidden City, a Mandarins house and garden, various emperors tombs, midday meal and a trip down the perfumed river on a dragon boat all for the princely sum of V$ of 500,000 or €20. Lyn handed me a visiting card with the address of the tour agency and told me it was just a little way down the street past my hotel. Armed with this piece of information, decided to have a bit of a look around this quarter of the town.

I found the tour operator with no bother, it was much like all the other tour agents in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, a glass fronted narrow office with a few plastic seats and a young girl in traditional garb seated behind a polished hardwood desk. The walls covered in lots of glossy pictures of tours that are being offered local, national and international, the owner spoke excellent English and said he had a very good tour going tomorrow morning that would pick me up at my hotel, he would check if he could squeeze me on (well they all say that).

So that was that cleared, I then rounded the corner and there was the bar “Brown Eyes” open until the last one passes out! I popped in just to have a look, bought a Hanoi beer, it was one of those normal seedy bars, with even seedier clientele I drank up and left, returning to my hotel to have a last beer before bed.

I was up quite early, breakfasted on the normal Nescafé, excellent baguette and omelette. It was raining quite heavily and the sky was quite grey, I thought to myself “picked the wrong day”,  I was busy reading a pamphlet on Hué when the bus arrived, there must have been a few dropped out overnight as the bus was only 2/3 full. Not to worry I got a window seat and off we jolly well went, the first port of call was the old Forbidden City, with its impressive citadel and the main entrance that I never reached yesterday.

 It is quite impressive, but as the whole site is being renovated and restored it suffered much under the American Bombs of the Vietnam War and afterwards the Vietnamese had other things on their minds other than to put their money into the ex-homes of the servants of the old imperialists. Now foreign money is most welcome and is turning the ruins back into something of their former glory.
The bus stopped and we all got out there was a steady drizzle and the ever opportunist flower sellers now were selling umbrella’s and rain poncho’s, the main portico stood before us, ensconced in a corset of scaffolding poles and canvas, the reconstruction work was in progress, but not today.
As in times gone by, we entered through a side entrance gate, the centre door being only for the Emperor and his Royal entourage. I didn't mind as I wasn't feeling particularly Royal and wasn't really dressed for such an occasion.

We entered into a rain washed courtyard in front of us a gate like construction, this is Ngo Mon the Royal gate, with the similar large centre arch and two smaller side arches, this time I took my life in my hands and went through the centre arch, I must say I did feel rather regal.

Me  being rather regal
Through the arch you pass over the Golden water Bridge across the water lily and Golden Oriole filled ponds, then across another court yard the Dia Trieu Nghi or great rites courtyard complete with its dragon guardians  and serpent  lined steps before you stands  the royal audience rooms of the Emperor, the Thai Hoa, the palace of supreme Harmony.

Thai Hoa was for the Emperor and his direct family only, The mandarins would stand  in front of the palace the positions designated by 18 stone stelae. The footfolk  (soldiers and civil servants would be standing a good way back in the cheap seats.   The palace has been restored to its formal glory, red lacquered wood work embellished with gold leaf (well on later inspection it was a gold paint). No one (except the servants was allowed inside of the Central Pavilion, this was reserved for the Royal Family and only them.

At the rear of the Royal Pavilion was the Purple Forbidden City (Tu Cam Thanh), these were the private gardens, walkways and leisure grounds of the Royal family, this area was almost totally destroyed during the 1968 Tet offensive. The bookless Royal reading rooms and the Mandarin palaces are all that survive.

It is interesting that two of the renovated sections are two of the tourist money spinners, the Ta pavilion converted to a souvenir shop and the Huu Vu a mock throne room, you can get dressed up and get your photo taken as the Emperor on the throne and no I did not!

Outside are two monstrous bronze urns weighing 1.5 tonnes each, these are wonderfully embellished with birds, wild animals plants and flowers in relief magnificent pieces of art.

You are free to wander as you wish, with or without the guide, I chose to go my own way, as all of the halls and exhibits are well explained on wall posters and besides I had a great guide book.
It is a massive construction and many of the buildings have been returned or are in the process of being returned to their former glory. But the destruction by the American bombing and lack of interest and funds on the part of the Socialist Government means that much is still in ruins and it will be many, many years before it is returned to something like its former glory.

I wandered and watched the artisans doing their bit, before returning to the main entrance at the designated time. To do justice to a visit to the Forbidden City you will need far more than the 1.5 hrs allotted to our tour but it did give an insight to the past glory of the palace and the wanton destruction that came later.

A restarator at work

Some of the finished restoration

An area of the purple gardens flattened by shells and bombs

And leaving via the gate that I had tried to enter yesterday
We were then shuttled outside of the forbidden city but still within the walls of the citadel, to one of the other palaces, the Long An Palace, this now houses Hué Museum of Royal Fine Arts Outside are cannons and bronze figures of Mandarins and soldiers, while inside are some very well kept  royal regalia. You are not allowed to take photographs inside, but in any case the exterior is far more interesting.

A little peek inside

We passed a row of massive bronze cannon (never fired) and the captured American Imperialist Armaments (we saw those yesterday, son will not bore you again).

We then jumped in the bus and went on a short ride down the river to a Mandarins house, no way as splendid as the Emperors joint but still very palatial with its walled garden, statues, fish ponds and very interesting pieces of art, and it still rained profusely.

The Mandarin's House

Thien Mu Pagoda

It was time for a quick dash to the only Pagoda within easy reach of the city, this is the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Elderly Goddess Pagoda, and this is the finest pagoda in Hué and is situated on the North Bank of the Perfumed River. It was built in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang a governor of the city. The story goes that he was approached by an old lady who said that this site had supernatural powers and he should build a temple there. This he did and it is the best kept and oldest temple and monastery in Hué. In the central Court yard after you climb the entrance steps is the 7 story tower, the Happiness and Grace Tower (Phuoc Duyen), each story has an altar to a different Buddha and the tower is adorned with a water pitcher to catch the rain, water being the source of happiness, well we certainly had a lot of rain that day and I didn't see a lot of people happy about it.

There are a lot of Buddhist artifacts and reliefs to the God King Buddha kept in various buildings surrounding the tower.  A large Bronze bell cast in 1701 and weighing in at 2.2 tonnes, beneath another is a very large marble turtle carrying a 2.6mtr stela telling the story of the development of Buddhism in Hué. Interestingly, it was from this monastery that Thich Quang Duc, the Monk who chose committed suicide by setting himself on fire, this photograph went all round the world. His little Austin that he drove to Saigon in to carry out his mission is still housed here.

I decided to take a walk along the river and took some shots of cows grazing willy nilly on the verges, i also paid a few dong to use a toilet.

It was now lunch time, we went an eating house next to the Pagoda and once seated we were served as usual a bowl of rather tasty broth with egg swirled into it, alongside this was a nice noodle dish, with morning glory, ribboned  carrots, green beans, sautéed onions and a few pieces of shredded crispy chicken, all well prepared, tasty and in the tour price.

The Tombs
After lunch it was up to the area which most of the Emperors have their tombs, each Emperor built his Pagoda during his lifetime, they were built out of the city walls in an area full with Chinese graveyards, they often uprooted the existing tombs to make way for their pagodas.
The Chinese graves and tombs

It is too far to travel on foot and it is just do-able on a bicycle, but why strain a gut when the guided tours are so cheap.

Minh mang

First we visited was the tomb of the second Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty Minh Mang, he was much opposed to the French and was a follower of  the Confucian Orthodox way of life. This led to a civil war and the first partition of Vietnam; he later overcame the South to reunite Vietnam again. He also defeated the Siamese who had tried to usurp Cambodia (then under Vietnamese rule) thus returning his rule to a reunited area in South East Asia of Vietnam. He lived between 1791 and 1841, he succeeded his father Gia Long the founder of the Dynasty, but as we didn’t visit his tomb, I shall not dwell on the subject.

The original main entrance gates, now barred, you enter through the tradesmans entrance

Below are some of the mandarins, warriors and animals meant to protect the emperor in his after life. These statues are a feature of all the mausoleums, tombs and palaces, one notable feature is all of the soldiers and mandarins are always made small than the Emperor.


The court yard  that leads to the actual burial tomb, locked and barred to us mortals

Inside of  this stela pavilion is a carved eulogy to the emperor written by his son

How much does a Vietnamese Urn (sorry couldn't resist)

The Sung An temple dedicated to Minh Mang and his wife

Tu duc

The Tu duc complex was the most magnificent and was built mostly in his lifetime, though he reigned longer than any other Vietnamese Emperor (1848-83) and having 100 concubine, he was unable to sire any children, thus he wrote his own Epithet, this was carved on the largest stele in Vietnam, the stone was transported 500 km away and took 4 years to complete its journey (which meant he had plenty of time to contemplate what he was going to have written on it. Though he wasn't able to have a son of his own, he did adopt a one and he, Kien phuk, followed his stepfather as emperor, but only for 7 months as he died. Due to his premature death he had no time to get a proper one built, so he is buried in an unspectacular tomb not far from the Emperors favorite concubine Le Thien An tomb. 

For some reason, I seem to have lost, deleted or misplaced my photographs of this section, but I found this interesting website with lots of great photos. The Tu Duc Temple Complex

An interesting fact is that the Emperor spent most of his time here in the woods and lakes hunting and fishing in his supposedly final resting place and not in the palace in Hué, this could have been because he wasn't really all that well liked (he used so much feudal labour and raised so much extra taxes to build this mausoleum) and had more than once to put down uprisings.

Though he built a magnificent mausoleum and tomb, he isn't actually buried here, his final resting place is thought to be in Hué, but as the 200 gravediggers lost their heads after returning from the final interment no one actually knows.

So once more onto the bus and the final stop of death the tomb of Khai Dinh.

He sought out the area of his final resting place very well, he even removed a couple of previous occupants, rich Chinese  who had the audacity to build their mausoleums on his spot, I don’t suppose they had a lot to say about it, having been dead for a hundred years or so.

This tomb was built between 1920 and 1932 and is the last and most impressive of the tombs, his tomb is buried deep under an island in the centre of the mausoleum complex, this is still visited by his remaining relatives once a year and these are the only ones allowed into the underground tomb. 

This complex heralds in a new era in the design and use of modern  building materials, mainly in the use of concrete (in many places now becoming sprode and the reinforcing reed bars are now starting to show signs of rusting and coming to the surface, never mind it has lasted a bit longer than some of the box girder bridges built all over the western world  in the 1960s.

After having a good look around the grounds, temples and sculptures, I visited the place of self edification, he certainly liked himself. This part of the temple is supposed to show the world what he actually accomplished in life (he certainly bought a lot of gold and done plenty of trips in the Western World (mainly France).

Boa Dai

The very last Kaiser of Vietnam, was Boa Dai, Born in 1913 and died in 1997, in between he succeeded to the throne after the death of his father in 1936 to become the 13th and last Kaiser (unlucky 13).  During WWII he was accepted by the Japanese (who overran Vietnam) as Titular head along with the Vichy French who under German and Japanese ran a puppet Government. This ended once again in 1945 with the return of French rule proper, The struggle between the French and the Viet Minh under Ho Chi Minh ended with the Communists taking power in Hanoi, he was given the post of head advisor. He once again changed his spots in 1949 after the French formed another government in Saigon and became the head of this Government. After the Indochina Conference in 1954 that split Vietnam in two, he once again became Head of State but this time of only the South, he saw the writing on the wall and went to live in Paris. A wise move as the next year a military putsch brought Ngô Din Diêm to the position of President and head of a Nationalist Government.  
Boa Dai died in exile in Paris and is buried in Cimetière de Passy, so this is the last of the imperial tombs and so maybe it should be called an un-tomb.
We left the Kai Dinh tomb, descended the quite steep and very slippery steps down to the road and hopped aboard  the bus to take us to a small tourist village that makes its living by selling various nic –nacs to tourists, this was I suppose why we were there. After watching the ladies with the niffty hands making the fans, hats and incense sticks and being offered them for purchase (many did, I didn’t), though I did put a few dong in the box as a thank you for allowing me to take photo's.

While the rest purchased their souvenirs, I went outside and took a few photo's of the real village life, chickens, beans and other food of life, though I suppose they earn more from the tourists than they do eking out a living with their gardens.

We then crossed to the perfumed river, there was waiting for us a dragon boat to whisk us down (or was it up) stream to the landing places near the statue garden that I had visited yesterday. I had had a very informative and entertaining day, if it had not been for the rain it would have been a perfect day, saying that if it hadn't been for the rain it would have been over crowded so rain does have its good points, besides watering the paddy fields.
Boarding this fearsome dragon boat
Casting off

The not so comfortable seating (loose plastic chairs)
Being overtaken by a speedboat

Passing the citadel our starting point that morning

The captain of this sturdy vessel
Arriving back at the hotel, I had a shower, got changed and went along to the Hot Tuna for my evening meal and a chat with Lyn, I was shown to my now reserved table,  with full view of the room and outside, but in a pleasantly discrete corner of the restaurant.

I dined on a set menu, it had been ordered for me by Lyn, I had no option, after all she was running the joint and was my go between to the cook.

I had menu no 2.

This consisted of
Súp hái sán-a seafood soup, a very tasty volute with pieces of river fish swimming in it. Excellent flavour and quality.
Notice the swimming fish

Bánh khoái-Rice cake filled omelette.
Nem rán kiéu Hué-Crispy spring rolls and dips (peanut and the usual chilli one) and a few rocket leaves.

Cá háp ngu lieu- Tuna fish in a five spice sauce, crunchy stir-fried vegetables and rice.

Rau xáo vôi gá- Sauteéd vegetables with chicken.

There was a fruit cocktail on the menu but I honestly couldn't eat another bite, so Lyn made me a cocktail instead.
Mixing a nice fruit salad

The restaurant was quite full so I decided as I had a quite tiring day, I would vacate my place for others and head back to the hotel for an early night and do a bit of reading up about my next stop off Hanoi, I bought a beer (Hanoi of course) and went to bed with my reading material.

Next day was my last full day in Hué, I was booked on the evening sleeper bus to Hanoi and I wanted to do a bit of last minute shopping, those silk scarves for the girls back home, remember.
The weather turned out nice the next morning so after a leisurely late breakfast, walk towards the shop that I had been threatening to visit for the past few days (I had been driving a hard bargain), this stands on the corner of Le Loi and Chu Van An. I chose the 5 silk scarves and paid less than the original asking price.

As I was leaving I heard some drumming and cymbal playing close by, rounding the corner, I saw a dragon dance in full swing, I asked what it was all about (I had seen many in the past in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore and at various military tattoos), I was informed that this was to honour a large Chinese wedding that was taking part.

I saw who was obviously the bride and her entourage, I asked politely if they minded if I took some photographs of this happy occasion, they were overjoyed and insisted on doing a few poses and when the groom appeared, he was also informed that he was in on the act.

I was invited in but I only stayed to take a few photos, I didn't want to impose on the couples happy day.

The brides and grooms parents

The dragon dancers going to strut their stuff

Enter the Bride and groom
Followed by the maids of honour and an umbrella carrier

The Happy Couple, mum and dads ( not smiling as they are paying)

I then headed along the embankment of the Perfumed River towards the imperial City, on reaching the bridge I saw a monument, I crossed the road and read all about it. The monument is set up outside a large school complex, it is dedicated to the anti-tax movement of 1908 in which Ho Chi Minh took part, it was here that the French Résident supérieur had his residence, he being the head of the government bore the brunt of the demonstrations, it is no longer there but in its place a seat of learning.

It was now getting on towards lunch and as it was sunny I decided to head back and have a spot of lunch sitting on the veranda at Hot Tuna, this is at the junction of three streets and is an excellent position to watch the locals going about their daily business.

Sitting outside in the warm sun, I ordered a beer and let the world go by, not a lot doing today!

What has she got there

Her cargo of birds

They catch the birds in the morning and then sell them at the market, The buyer then releases them to bring good luck, The next day they are caught again and the story repeats itself, now is that good business or what?

I selected the speciality of the house a Tuna Burger and French fries, not too heavy as I had a long trip ahead of me and if traveling I tend not to eat, as it can have dire consequences due to the interaction between food and my diabetic tablets, but I shall not trouble you with these.

I returned to the hotel and as the pickup point for the sleeper was outside of the hotel I sat and read and waited for the bus to come, it was a long journey to Hanoi, well over 500km and takes a good 12 hrs so they say at booking, but as they never leave punctually and they arrive late it takes on average an hour longer.
So it was goodbye Hué now for the next leg of my journey Ha noi and my friend Viet An.
Goodbye Hóng Thién
Luckily this coach had a toilet and so I didn't have to rely on the infrequent stops along the highway. But I was to have some on-board entertainment during the journey, but more of that later.

Phew that was a long one!!!!!