This year’s travel love note goes out to the lovely city of Hue, Vietnam. Humming happily by the Perfume River, Hue (pronounced “Wh-ay”) remains one of the most fascinating and friendly places I’ve ever visited. Hue, in August, is HOT, like sweat all the time hot, but I liked it. A visit to Hue means that you’ll be practicing the crossing-the-street skills you earned in Hanoi, or any other part of Vietnam (or more rural parts of China) – steady as you go, make eye contact, don’t run. Hue is third (following Hanoi and Saigon) in terms of motorbike volume. There are so many fascinating aspects to Hue – it is the old imperial city of Vietnam, so there’s the obligatory visit to the Emperor’s Purple Palace and the Citadel. You can easily walk the city, but if you get too hot or tired you can always have a friendly haggle with a taxi driver – I personally felt the cyclos were exploitative, so I dodged those. As one juror posted earlier here on TravelByJury.com, the Imperial Tombs – especially the Ming Mang tomb – are not to be missed and can be arranged to suit a variety of travel needs – you can go by boat, by car, by bike – whatever! Visiting the pagodas are also a treat – the Thien Mu Pagoda is a symbol of Hue, and easily reached by bus, taxi, or motorbike. It’s the tallest in Vietnam, but also very symbolic of the Buddhist presence in Hue; this is the pagoda that hosted the monks who emmollated themselves in protest of occupied Vietnam in 1963. I personally enjoyed the Tu Hieu pagoda, where I witnessed Buddhist monks chanting in a serene forest; Tu Hieu is also known as Thich Nhat Hanh’s first place of study, and it’s a truly serene experience. Similarly awesome is the Temple of Literature, which contains so many steeles, Buddhas, and gazing pools that a visitor could easily become entranced there for hours. Of course, right up the street from the Temple of Literature is the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which you should definitley check out, ’cause Uncle Ho was a fascinating guy. The mausoleaum is optional (he didn’t want the Stalin treatment) but non-optional is stopping by the Healing the Wounded Heart Shop, which not only serves divine teas and desserts but also sells beautiful handcrafts. The proceeds go toward heart surgeries for the poor in Vietnam. To keep your visit soulful, don’t skip out on eating a FABULOUS meal at KOTO, a restaurant that trains and educates its staff, who are previously underpriveleged youth, in the arts of business, cooking, service industry training, and, of course, learning English. Of course, you’ll find plenty of great eats in Hue – just walk in and enjoy the obligatory lime juice:) Hue is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I send this Valentine out for all travelers, hoping that they get to experience this gem of a destination with as much joy as I did. Hip Hip Hurrah for Hue!
Filed under: Asia | Tagged: Asia, Buddhism, Buddhist monastery, Buddhist war protest, Citadel, crossing the street, Emperor's tombs Hue, fresh fish, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, friendly folk, getting around Hue, great eats, Hanoi, Healing the Wounded Heart Shop, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hue, Imperial Palace, KOTO, lime juice, Ming Mang Tomb, motorbikes, pagodas, Perfume River, Purple Palace, steeles, Temple of Literature, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Hieu, Vietnam | Leave a Comment »