May 27, 2011
27.05.2011 - 27.05.2011
We have arrived in Hue! Although it’s a short stay, we are going to make the most of it. Hue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 during the Nguen Dynasty. It is situated on the banks of the Huong Giang which means Perfume River. Everywhere you look monumental temples, Buddhist pagodas, markets and architecture begging you to explore every nook and cranny.
Our tour guide suggested many different things we could do during the day at Hue and we decided on Ho Quyen, a tiger fighting arena within Hue. It is one of the most interesting sites and one of the most overlooked by visitors. Ho Quyen was built in 1830 during the reign of Emperor Ming Mang where elephant and tiger battles were staged yearly. The exterior consists of two thick, circular walls with stairs leading to the top of the wall. One set of stairs was for the Emperor and his family while the other set were for the court and commoners. Across from the Emperor’s seats are five tiger cages within the stadium where the tigers were held in anticipation before a battle. It was sad to see and we each tried really hard not to imagine what really occurred there. We were told that the fights between the tigers and the elephants were always fixed. Because the tiger symbolized rebellion and the elephant symbolized the monarchy, the tigers would be drugged and have its claws and fangs removed so that the elephant would always win.
That evening, we decided to take a night boat cruise along Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, a seven-storey tower standing on the riverbank. Dinner was included on board the boat and featured live Hue folk music. It was a great way to experience the food and musical culture of Hue. Seeing the river at night was truly magical- the pictures just don’t do it justice. I think we all really enjoyed it.
Thien Mu Pagoda (which means Heavenly Lady Pagoda) is one of the oldest buildings and is a religious monument. Each of the seven tiers is said by some to represent human forms taken by Buddha while others say that they represent steps to enlightenment. It was a beautiful site to see and a great way to end the day. Tomorrow, we pack up and travel south to Hoi An!