Day 7 The Royal Tombs
At dinner a couple of nights ago we got chatting to our lovely little waitress and ultimately organised for her to be our ‘tour guide’ for a visit to the Royal Tombs. Linh organised a driver and met us in the lobby at 8.30am.First stop was the Thien Mu Pagoda, situated on the edge of the Perfume River. Housed at the back of the pagoda is the little blue Austin car that Thich Quang Duc drove to Saigon in 1963. The wold will remember Thich as the monk who self-immolated in protest at the pro –US policies of then President Diem.
After this we headed to check out an incense and conical hat village. We had basically let Linh work out an itinerary and I guess she followed a fairly standard tourist route. Seeing the incense and hats being made was interesting but I would not have really felt we’d missed anything if we’d nit stopped here.
A short ride round the corner brought us to the tomb of Tu Duc .. emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty who reigned from 1848-1883. The tomb complex itself was built between 1864-1867 and was used both during his lifetime and as his final resting place. It has beautifully landscaped grounds centring round a lake with a small island in the middle. Apparently the Emperor used to row his little boat round in the afternoons to get away from the affairs of state. I suspect it was more likely he was trying to get away from his 101 wives!
Final stop was the tomb of Khai Dinh. Each emperor determined the location of his tomb and once you climb the 179 stairs I can see why he chose this spot – stunning views greet you from the top. Khai Dinh ruled from 1916-1925 and his tomb was completed 6 years after his death. At first it looks quite cold & boring – even though the architecture is quite ornate, it’s just grey –stone & concrete.
This absolutely belies what greets you when you step into the actual main building. Separated into 3 rooms with the Emperors tomb in the central one, it is completely covered, floor to ceiling with ceramic mosaics – stunningly beautiful! There is a sign that says ‘no photography’ but after seeing about half the other visitors ignore these signs, I did too… just once!
Tomorrow is the start of the Hue Festival … what a bugger I did not know about this before we settled on our itinerary. The city looks like it is about to bust .. flags, banners, lights, the bridge lit up at night and a sense of excitement everywhere. We’re going to miss all the excitement – we head for Hanoi tomorrow morning. We’ve loved Hue.