From Hanoi, I hoped on another sleeper bus to Hue. This trip was better… (flat coastal route rather than mountains of heading into riots) I guess the third time is the charm. I would still prefer a sleeper train, but the tickets were sold out. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of a sleeper bus, here is a picture to help you understand a bit better what they are like. My biggest compliant about this particular ride was that what was advertised by my hostel as a 12 hour bus ride was more like 21. Maybe he was Lysdexic.
Hue, the capital of the last Vietnamese empire, the Nguyen Empire (1802-1945) is a city of just over 300,000 people. The city lies just south of the old DMZ from the Vietnam war. The major tourist sight in the city is the old imperial citadel, the walled capital city of the Nguyen and, within the city, old grounds of the Purple Palace, home of the Nguyen emperors, making it one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The city was badly damaged by a series of natural disasters in the early 20th century, war in the 1940s, and bombing by the Americans in the 60s. Many of the old buildings are either gone or a in shambles. The Vietnamese government has been working, in conjunction with the French, to restore and stablize the buildings that are still standing.
The main gate of the imperial palace.
The Queen Mother had her own section of the palace and her own gardens. A number of the Nguyen Queen Mothers seemed to be fairly powerful politically and had their own spaces for audiences and meetings with advisors and subjects.
Hue is also a gourmand's paradise. The food is amazing. (This is a local “pancake,” a loose rice dough with meat and spices steamed in a banana leaf… This was one of the less inspiring dishes I had in Hue, but still yummy. All of the food I had otherwise was great.)