This is a big city, with a correspondingly big market. We found many treasures, including boxes made from cinnamon bark and necklaces made from lotus seeds.
After lunch we visited the citadel in Hue, built on the model of the Forbidden City in Beijing. This entire part of the city was mostly flattened during the Tet offensive of 1968, but there has been a considerable reconstruction effort underway. Several international organizations have funded the reconstruction and preservation of historically significant monuments.
We visited the Thien Mu pagoda, a Buddhist temple on the banks of the Perfume River on the outskirts of Hue. This was the center of Buddhist opposition to the Diem regime; and they had a relic of the 1963 self-immolation of one of their most revered monks. Fortunately, we were in time for the monastic 4 o’clock afternoon prayers, with the accompanying bells and gongs and chanting.
Dinner was a very special affair, something like a Vietnamese version of those Medieval Banquets. Remember Hue was an imperial city. So we were an imperial court! We had a king, a queen, two gentlemen mandarins (senior civil servants/government officials), and the rest of the ladies were all … concubines. Ahem. Complete with costume.
And of course every court has court musicians. So we did too, with their unique Vietnamese instruments, but I was too busy listening to take pictures. Mea culpa. I can say it was much easier to listen to than Chinese singing.
All in all, a delightful day full of very different experiences.