Da Nang to Hue

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Marble Mountains  

Five hills, formerly islands comprised of marble and limestone.  Each is named for one of the universal elements of fire, earth, water, wood and metal.  It was French geologists who coined the name Marble Mountains when they discovered they are a source of red, white and blue/green marble. The mountains are riddled with caves and temples and we were looking forward to hours of climbing and exploring. Unfortunately it was not to be.  We  only got to see the Linh Ong Pagoda

Having been so graciously welcomed everywhere we went it came as a shock to find our path to the entrance blocked by rapacious hawkers.  It was impossible to pass so we turned around and headed back to our bus.  This provoked a tirade of curses which our Vietnamese guide unfortunately translated for us

Linh Ong Pagoda

China Beach
The former R&R beach of choice for G.I.'s was a much needed oasis of calm this day

The Ancient Imperial City of Hue

Comprises a moated outer Citadel, the Imperial Enclosure, where all the ceremonial events took place and the Forbidden Purple City  
Of the original 160 buildings only 10 survived the Tet Offensive of 1968.  Under the aegis of UNESCO, restoration began in 1993 

Ngo Mon Gate topped by Ngo Phung Hall, patiently awaits it's turn to be renovated

Amid the ruins and the vegetable plots of the Forbidden City is the partially restored two storey library

The nine Dynastic Urns, one for each Nguyen Emperor.  Standing in front of Hien Lam Pavillion

 Library detail. The finished renovations at the Imperial City are magnificent

 

Gateway Purple Forbidden City home to the last Emperor Bao Dai and his family

 

Largest of the Dynastic Urns dedicated to Gia Long the founder of the Nguyen Dynasty

It was at the Thai Hoe Palace in the Imperial Enclosure, that Emperor Bao Dai abdicated to Ho Chi Minh's delegation in 1945
To see the current state of renovation go to UNESO's website and be prepared to be wowed
Despite the worsening weather we set off on our trip up the Perfume River to the 7 tombs of 9 Emperors
  Thien Mu Pagoda of The Celestial Lady

  Tomb of Emperor Mhin  Mang  Honour courtyard with honour guard & path to his tomb
We elected to head back to Hue, the weather was making it impossible to enjoy the rest of the tombs.  It was also the day I decided in  future I would travel independently with enough time scheduled to allow for changes along the way.  Even if it meant going alone

The Reunification Express

The station, and engine exceeded expectations.  The carriages, not the Orient Express but adequate. The route, built by the French in the 1880's

CKD Praha D12 E - 639 (1985-2000)

The food vendors patiently waiting

And at every other stop to Hanoi

With the U.S. not an option and Russia definitely persona non grata, Czechlovakia stepped up, building and supplying DC12 diesels engines designed  specifically for hot humid climates.  As of 2016 D12 E - 639 was still in operation although no longer on the prestigious reunification route
The 'ponds' seen from the train are courtesy of the US Air Force and are still used by villagers in some rural areas for rearing fish and ducks
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