Posts Tagged ‘Hoi An’

  • Hue, the capital of the Nguyen emperors

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    Hue is one of the jewels of Vietnam and many ancient, vietnames style buildings would still remain intact if war would have never happened. It was first the French, later the American, who bombed and destroyed one of the marvels of the country: Hue’s citadel. The complex is located within 3 concentric stone walls of around two meters thick, each of them keeping the security and the privacy of the one inside. The first wall and also the longer one runs along the Perfume River bed and was the entrance to the city itself. The second one, the imperial enclosure housing the emperor’s residence and the main buildings of state, separated citizens to the emperor’s court, and nowadays keeps vehicles outside its limits, which makes the visit much more quieter and nicer. And the third one gave access to the Forbidden City, inhabitated by the Emperor and his concubines.

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    It is a pity that there are only a few intact buildings left because the beauty of the area is thought to be similar to that of the Forbidden City in Beijin, China. The majestuosity of the it all remains in the ruins anyway and one can imagine how well the Emperor’s family could have lived within the walls. It is a pleasant day out visiting the complex although it can be tiring because of its size. Very remarkable for its beauty and good state of conservation is the Emperor’s Reading Room, which is unfortunately used nowadays to store rubbish and useless stuff and it is not possible to visit inside. Actually, very few of the remaining buildings can be visited inside and one can only imagine its inner splendour by watching old pictures of them.

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    Appart from the citadell, Hue is crossed by the beautiful Perfume River, which can be navigated with tourist boats, although we didn’t do it. The water is clean and clear –something uncommon in rivers passing through a city- and we were tempted more than once to jump into it and have a swim. Definitely, we liked Hue because of the Citadel and the river, although we found Hoi An much more authentic and beautiful. If we come back to Vietnam again, both cities will be on the list!

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  • The serene city of Hoi An

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    Hoi An has been the most beautiful city we have visited so far in Vietnam. It took us long to get there from Buon Ma Thuot. Very long, around 24 hours and two different bus rides, but it was worth the effort!! The first bus we took left us in the cathastrophic coastal town of Nha Trang, a highly tourist-polluted place with high hotel and resort buildings, cable car to a nearby island resort and every kind of sea sport activities for upmarket tourists. Once we were able to see how things looked like in town, we decided to catch an sleeper bus on the same evening to go to Hoi An and spend there the minimum possible time. We were lucky enough to book the last two berths available for that night’s sleeper bus.

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    So we slept –or tried to- in the bus that night and arrived in Hoi An early in the morning. It took us some hours to find the proper, cheap hotel to stay and then we walked the streets in the city centre. From the beginning we were delighted by the charm of the old city. Small streets with no 4 wheelers –although motorbikes and bicycles are allowed inside- and old, beautiful french, chinese and vietnamese architecture not exceding 2 storeys. Luckily the city largely escaped the destruction of sucesive wars and it is still possible to admire ancient chinese merchant houses and other old buildings, retaining a sense of history more than any other place in Vietnam.

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    Only the large amount of souvenir and present shops and their touts calling your attention from the door were a bit annoying, but you could easily manage to say NO and they would not insist more. According to our guide book –the same one everyone else seems to carry with them- Hoi An is the place to get a suit made in Vietnam, so many tailors and shoe makers were quite busy measuring arm brights and so on. The cloths looked nice but we didn’t even think about buying anything –we already carry enough weight with our 10 kg backpack!!

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