Hue, which was the capital of Vietnam for hundreds of years, had the misfortune of being destroyed both by the French and the Americans, which left many of the historical sites damaged. However, the city still maintains its old charm within the citadel structure, which is a walled section of the city that you can only access by passing over a moat and through a narrow tunnel entrance.
Within the citadel resides another citadel (inception!), the Imperial Enclosure, home to the emperors during the 1800-1900s. The official buildings inside the grand walls are in varying levels of decay, but there have been many efforts to preserve them and give visitors an idea of how daily life for an emperor and his staff was. The complex was enormous and consisted of multiple palaces, administrative buildings, a theater, and tranquil gardens dispersed around the property. To me, it’s a shame that war can result in losing important historical settings like this one, with little regard for the culture and accomplishments of the people.
After strolling the imperial enclosure, we sampled some of Hue’s famous cuisine for lunch. My favorite was the fresh spring rolls, where you are served fresh vegetables and a skewer of meat, which you then roll up in the translucent rice paper and dip into the peanut sauce. They also had crispy pancakes filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, which also were quite tasty.
To walk off our filling lunch, we strolled along the bridge spanning the Perfume River and meandered along the riverside park, complete with statues, artwork, and groups of girls practicing dance routines.
After a cruise on the motorcycle to get some pictures of the city, we relaxed and headed out for dinner. Byron is much more tolerant of the Vietnamese food, so he opted for a streetwise barbecue while I splurged and went for delicious western food (a splurge in Vietnam is about $5). We finished up the night with a pint of fresh Vietnamese beer (bia hoi) for a whopping price of 18 cents a glass.