Friday, July 29, 2016

Hue 2016 - Emperor Tu Duc's Tomb

Emperor Tu Duc was the 4th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Tu Duc's reign was quite troubled as his oldest brother was passed over for the throne and led rebellions against him. He also had to deal with hundreds of internal rebellions as well as European colonizing powers determined to set up their foothold in Asia.To add to this misery - he had over a 100 wives and concubines but was unable to father a son.

Perhaps due to the many problems he had to deal with in his imperial life - he started building his tomb very early and used it as his retreat. Unlike other tombs which were mainly for burial purposes, here there are substantial residential quarters and other facilities for the Emperor's amusement.

The architecture is well integrated into the landscape - creating a beautiful and serene environment  that would have made a great retreat for the Emperor.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hue 2016 - Emperor Minh Mang's Tomb

Hue's most important sights are the tombs of several emperors. Among these - Emperor Minh Mang's tomb is one of the most impressive. Minh Mang was the 2nd Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. He was the 4th son of Emperor Gia Long, He continued his father's isolationist policy, but at the same time also studied European culture and thinking. 
The Tomb complex is like a miniature version of the Imperial City. There are layers of gateways and pavilions leading to the Emperor's final resting place. 

The garden and landscape play an important part in the whole design of the complex. 
The symmetry of the layout, the elegance of the architecture, and the balance between between the natural and the man-made is quite captivating. Though it is quite far from the city, a visit to Emperor Minh Mang's Tomb is a must in Hue.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hue 2016 - Dinner at Quan Hanh Cafe

Our first evening in Hue we wanted to have our dinner at Quan Hanh Cafe - which has received very good reviews on food blogs and TripAdvisor. The Cafe is located on Nguyen Tri Phoung Road - it is very popular with locals as well as visitors. The owners spoke basic English, and there is an English menu to help with your orders. We ended up with quite a few dishes and the small table overflowed with our orders. 

We started with Bahn Beo - steamed rice cakes in very small dishes. These are topped with dried shrimps and crispy pork scratchings. They are delicious with the spicy sauce.

Bun Thit Nuong is another popular Hue dish. Grilled meat - in this case pork, is served with rice vermicelli, sliced vegetables and a savoury sauce. It is a light a refreshing dish.

Nem Lui - pork meat skewers is sort of like satay but the meat is minced and mixed with herbs and spices than wrapped around a lemongrass skewer and grilled. They are served with lots of crunchy vegetables, wrapped with rice paper. The sauce take comes with it - is a peanut sauce mixed with pork liver. Very yummy.

Bahn Khoai is a crispy pancake filled with prawn and pork. It is a bit like Bahn Xeo, but the batter is more crispy.

Crispy Spring Rolls - not that different from the typical Chinese version. 

They also have really good Creme Caramel served with a passion fruit sauce. Make sure you order these. 

TripAdvisor recommendations are a bit hit or miss, but this time it is spot on. Quan Hanh is a great local restaurant that offers great food, great service at reasonable prices.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hue 2016 - Getting to Hue

We wanted to visit Hue and Hoi An in Central Vietnam, and the easiest way is to take an Air Asia flight to Danang and go from there. From Danang we took a local train to Hue from the central train station which is right in the city centre. The distance is around 105km, and the train journey takes around 2 hours. There are 4 trains plying the route daily. The ticket counter staff speak very little English - we bought the tickets and hoped for the best! 

The train is quite clean and wellmaintained - but don't expect Euro train standards. The 1st class cabin have soft seats that are quite comfortable. Passengers are mostly locals.

The route between Danang and Hue is quite scenic. Bring a tablet or a book, some snacks and you will be well- sorted for the trip.