We set off quite early, onto the Perfume River. First, though, we crossed to the Citadel-side bank, so the owner's wife - who I'll call Nana from here, because she never told us her name even though she clearly thought I was awesome and wanted to adopt me - could go into the market and get supplies for lunch. (To do this, we crossed towards the bank, met a long, low boat, she boarded that boat which took her to the bank, and we did a long, slow u-turn and a few circles, and picked her up when she came back.)
The point of the trip was to visit four historical sites upriver from Hue - a far more interesting trip than it sounds, even just to compare and contrast the different styles of mausoleum and temple. Lunch was included, and also, we got to go on a boat trip. Total price? $20 each. Only in Vietnam.
|The extensive grounds of the first temple site.|
|The second temple site.|
To get to the third temple, we had to get off the boat, then Nana had to hire to motos to get there! We perched precariously on the back of the bikes, and got a ride through the countryside, to perhaps the most ornate temple yet - this one had a lake as well, and had been built in two sections, one for the emperor and his family to live in while he was alive, and one for him to be entombed in after death. I can't quite imagine living next door to your grave, can you? The complex included a pavillion over the lake, where the Emperor apparently used to sit and compose poetry. I quite liked this complex, not for the pavillion but because of the way some of the buildings were unrestored, unpainted or painted in dark colours - I liked the contrast between the dark interiors and the hot, bright sun outside.
The fourth and final site was actually a monastery, also set above the river but on a much larger site. And it was actually a working monastery, with monks and everything (it seemed rude to take pictures of them...). It was a very beautiful and different complex, with a front courtyard full of huge trees and turtle steles, with a beautifully painted entry gate and a great view. Once inside, the grounds were also lovely, with treed areas along the length of the complex and open courtyards in the centre. The temples were very clearly being used for worship, so it didn't seem polite to take pictures of them, really, or go inside without the intent to pray, but walking around was interesting enough.
Once done, we headed back down to the boat. On the ride back into Hue, Nana came to chat with us. She had 7 children, including a daughter about our age, and she was interested in the photos I'd taken. (61 years old, and you should have seen her on this boat! She was bendier than I've ever been in my entire life...) The couple were, overall, some of the nicest locals we met, and we both agreed it was one of the best things we did the whole trip.
|The lake and pavillion at the third temple site.|
|Shady interiors at the third temple site.|
|Close-up of a tortoise - he's carrying a huge stele. (This was at the monastery.)|
|Not sure who this colourful guy is... (also the monastery site.)|
|The front courtyard of the monastery, with view.|