Hue was originally the capital of Vietnam. It was chosen based on a local legend. A woman would recognise a warrior when he came to the top of the mountain overlooking the river and build a temple there. A warrior heard this legend and so decided to fulfill it and became the first Emperor.
Building a fortress in Hue to protect the Emperor took many years. The river is on two sides. A moat was built and inside it was the first of 3 walls. You can enter the first area by one of 9 gates. Inside was an area where the soldiers, and important people lived. The next wall was thick and only had 5 entrances, all on one wall. Two were for horses and elephants, one for soldiers and monks, one for mandarins and their families and the main, and largest for the Emperor. The final wall had only three gates as it was the entrance to the Emperors area. It was accessed only by the Royal family and the mandarins when addressing matters to the Emperor. Much of the Imperial Palace was damaged initially in the war with the French and then in the Vietnam war, but is now being restored.
One of the Emperor was considered unlucky as ,despite trying with many wives, he had no children. He had been ill when 20 and it was believed to have caused this problem. His brother died in his assuming power and his country was invaded. With all these woes, he built a summer palace/ tomb and lived the next 17 years waiting to fill his mausoleum. Definitely not a happy man. To make it worse, officials and some of his wives , hoping to gain more status and power in the next life, all committed suicide and joined him in death.
Lunch was amazing. It was prepared in a Pagoda. Now if you are confused about Pagodas and temples, you are not alone. A Pagoda has monks living there and praying to Buddha for the people. The Temple is to honour someone famous, a hero, a emperor or an student who has one the national exam : no monks. At the Pagoda we enjoyed figs with onion, soup, fried rice, tapioca pancakes and a curry. All the flavours were different and enjoyable. Yes we passed the chopstick test. Dinner on the other hand was a disappointment so I won’t mention it!
Markets here are filled with everything for family life. People visit each day and buy the ingredients for meals. There are supermarkets but people still prefer visiting their local markets and bargaining.
Bonzai is a common way to include plants in the environment. Everywhere you go are magnificent displays of these and othe plants.
From here ,I attempted to make incense sticks. Spices are mixed with powdered wood. This is then mixed with a clay type mixture. A bamboo stick is then rolled with the mixture and pressed with a flat wooden paddle. This is not my next profession.
We cruised back to our hotel. There are decorated boats that travel up and down the Perfumed river. People live on the boat and earn a living taking cruises and selling souvenirs. They are quite poor but want to retain their traditional way of life.