Rosie & Jim's Travel Blog

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A Right Royal Affair

  |     |   Vietnam 2011   |   Vietnam, Hue

Off to another location today and this time we’re flying. It seems that the flight times have changed since we got our itineraries as the flight is in the afternoon. You know what that means, Lie In!! And a chance to go see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Palace before leaving :smile:. We enjoyed a relaxed Vietnamese/Eastern breakfast before heading out to see the preserved body of the man who brought Communism to Vietnam. The mausoleum was an impressive, if simple, structure. We were subjected to a security check before entering having left Hai looking a little like a very expensive packhorse with numerous cameras around his neck. It was a bit surreal seeing the body of a guy who died in 1969 perfectly preserved, although he did look a little like a wax work.

Once everyone had reclaimed their cameras from Hai we walked over to the Ho Chi Minh Palace which was a grand structure with beautiful gardens all around (I don’t have any pictures of this because I stupidly left my camera on the bus). Ho Chi Minh wasn’t really happy taking this extravagant French built palace as his home so he built an extremely simple and small home for himself within the grounds to show his support for the common man.

We left the palace at just the right time for the transfer to the airport where, interestingly, they believe any food you want to eat needs to be microwaved before serving. This included ham salad sandwiches, which really didn’t go down too well. I opted for noodle soup instead, at least that was meant to be hot.

We arrived in Huế in the late afternoon giving us enough time to visit the Thiên Mụ Pagoda and get a dragon boat back to the hotel to check in before dinner. The Thiên Mụ Pagoda was another interesting Buddhist temple on the banks of the Perfume River and, as with everywhere else in Vietnam, was populated with loads of bonsai trees of all different sizes. I guess it’s a good way of teaching patience. This pagoda is also the home of the Austin car driven by Thích Quảng Đức, the Buddhist Monk who burnt himself alive in Saigon in 1963 to protest against the Diệm regime.

Having had a good look around the temple we then got into a local Dragon Boat for the ride to our hotel in the center of Huế. It wasn’t quite what any of us were expecting to be honest. It was simply a normal, diesel powered, boat with dragons heads on the front and tails on the back, with normal, unfixed seats onboard. The best part was that the driver had the battery loose at his feet with some dodgy wiring connecting it to the engine!

The highlight of Huế is supposedly the Royal Dinner where you are dressed in traditional clothing, then fed and entertained like only the Royal Family ever were in the dim and distant past. Due to this being our only evening in Huế, we went for the Royal Dinner.

Warren and Liz were selected to be the King and Queen for the evening, much to Liz’ disgust as this meant they would be sat on their own at the head table. The meal consisted of 11 courses, although, in the normal Vietnamese way, all the courses blended together. All the food was extremely well/decoratively presented and I enjoyed it, although a number of other people were disappointed with the food itself. The entertainment was excellent, especially the guy who played the monochord/Đàn bầu.

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