After departing from Dam’s parents in Ninh Binh, we arrived to Hué station and from there it was about a 10-15 minute walk to our hotel. Once we checked in, we grabbed a quick shower and around noon we met up with our new couch surfing host, Mai. He was an adorable guy. A future lawyer, a black belt in karate, he loved nature and was passionate about travelling and meeting new people.
Mai guided us around Hué and we visited an Imperial citadel, which was a bit similar to Forbidden City in China, but of course, this was like 10x times smaller. We learned many things about the Nguyen Dynasty and how the Imperial fortress was structured. The Emperor’s Hall was a place for welcoming guests and holding important meetings. Then we visited a district that was called the Concubines of the Emperor’s wife and also the Emperor’s children’s quarters. It reminded me a lot about Medieval king’s castles.
Although the rest of the sites were under construction or in ruins, for me it was still quite enjoyable to walk around the area despite most buildings were crumbled. Being able to walk among the untouched historical pieces that were left behind is much better than a reconstructed newly built fabricated history.
We spent a couple of hours with Thomas, the French guy we met back at Ninh Binh station. He sent me a text saying that he was wrapping up his tour around the Citadel as well. We eventually met up and took a cab and did some more site seeing. Mai lead us to a nuke which was used by the Viet-Kongs during the Vietnam War. Nearby the bunker, there was a magnificent view of the “Perfume River”.
We walked further down to visit The Emperor’s Tomb, which in fact was not only a tomb but the countryside palace, reception hall for him and his Empress, a theatre, gardens and a canal at the end of an artificial lake with an island. All in all, it was a dream home where millions cannot afford to buy. Story of my life. Also, he had a collection of rare birds. Because every ruler had to have a collection of any rare animals. 😒 But I think the most exciting part of his crib was his final resting place. After his death, his reception hall turned into a temple and people were allowed to enter and worship him. So he went from being a royal human being to a spiritual figure to the people of Vietnam.