Hue was a city that wasn’t on my radar until I opened my Lonely Planet: “Hue is the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heart of Vietnam.” I like all of those things, so we decided to spend a day exploring Hue.
Hue is located on the Perfume River in central Vietnam (click here for a map). The air was clean, the pace was slow, so I immediately liked the city. Since we only had one day, I decided to book a tour so we could have a driver take us to the royal tombs that were further afield. Our guide Anna (her English name), met us at our hotel and then we drove to the Perfume River and boarded a dragon boat.
After 15 minutes in the dragon boat, where a mother and her daughter live and work, we arrived at the Thien Mu Pagoda.
The pagoda and complex were impressive. Monks live and worship here and the car that Thich Quang Duc drove to Saigon before self-immolating is also on the grounds. His self-immolation was caught by a photographer and the photo spread around the world and later won a Pulitzer, see it here.
The past is always present, but in Hue I felt it even more. At one point my father asked Anna how her family had been affected by the Vietnam War and how they viewed Americans.