Photos of Hue, Danang, and Hoi An

I’ve now uploaded some photos of the time we spent in central Vietnam, in Hue, Danang, and Hoi An to my Picasa website. Hoi An was the location of my visit to a Vietnamese pharmacy. I have described the trip from Hanoi to Hue by train in my report on “The Great Train Experiment.” The results of that experiment were that we slept most of the day of our arrival in Hue in order to recover from the trip.

On the next day, we set out sightseeing. Our first stop was The Citadel at Hue. Here is what I wrote earlier about the Citadel in my “Immortal porpoises” post:

“Yesterday we visited the Citadel in Hue. The Citadel is modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Vietnamese having been ruled by China for a thousand years, ending about a thousand years ago. So the Chinese influences are very strong. Hue was the capital of the last of the Vietnamese dynasties, the Nguyen dynasty, that was co-opted by the French during colonial times. The Citadel is being lovingly restored and is already quite impressive (and also a World Heritage Site). Surprisingly, I was haunted by the TV images of Hue I saw as a teenager at the time of the Tet offensive. Since I was not really close to being drafted, i did not expect to have an emotional response connected with Vietnam war. Hence my surprise. Our guide was an eight year old resident of Hue at that time and told us of how frightening an experience it was. Fortunately, her family lived on the outskirts of Hue and were spared much of the horrors. But between the heavy fighting, including shelling and bombing, to retake the city and the summary executions of some 2500 Hue residents deemed to be collaborators with the US and the South by the Vietnamese forces, some 10,000 civilians died in that battle.”

The first picture in the album was meant to capture a defining image of the battle for Hue. The North Vietnamese forces had raised the North Vietnamese flag over the Citadel and managed to keep it flying for several days, on view to the world through media reporting, before the US was able to recapture the Citadel. It was something of a psychological victory of the Tet Offensive.

We did some other sightseeing in Hue, but I did not take many more pictures that turned out well. The photo of the KFC was included to show one of the successful US businesses that have penetrated the Asian market. We had lunch there and it was clean, air conditioned, and had pretty much the same menu as you would find in the US. The prices were cheaper than in the US, but more expensive than some Vietnamese lunch alternatives.

Our guides then drove us to Hoi An, by way of Danang. It was a beautiful drive along the coast. The coast road passes by a brackish inlet from the ocean. The water is part fresh and part salt and the Vietnamese grow a lot of shrimp here. We ate very well in central Vietnam with the highlights being the ultra-fresh seafood dishes. I can not remember ever having such delicious seafood anywhere else (and, yes, that includes Seattle). One has to cross a small pass as the road turns inland toward Danang. At the pass, we saw the remains of cement bunkers used by US troops to help secure Danang during the Vietnamese War. Our main stop in Danang was the Cham Museum. This area in Vietnam was once ruled by a Hindu-derived people called the Cham and there are still Cham enclaves in Vietnam today. The Cham are culturally related to the Hindus who colonized much of Southeast Asia 1500 years ago. So the Cham are closely related to the ancient builders of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and to the ancient kingdoms in Thailand and Indonesia. So, it was very interesting to see the museum which has a wonderful collection of Cham temple sculpture. The sculptures had many similarities to the sculptures we saw at Angkor Wat on our trip three years ago.

Before leaving Danang, we stopped at the famous China Beach. As depicted in the recent TV series of the same name, China Beach was a US R&R facility. One can certainly see why it was chosen. Miles of gorgeous beach. From these photos you can see that tourism is a bit off this year. Imagine having all that beach to oneself! Kris and I are not much into just laying around the beach, but if we were, this would have been a wonderful opportunity.

It is a short drive from Danang to Hoi An. Hoi An was an ancient port city until its river connection to the sea silted up. Apparently it was a great place to hang out while waiting for the prevailing winds to change. So it was an important trading port for goods running between China and points further south and east in Southeast Asia. Hoi An’s old quarter is (you guessed it) a World Heritage City. I was not too impressed with the old city, except for one modern feature: wonderful restaurants serving local seafood. If you head to the coast from Hoi An, you run into what are described as more wonderful beaches. We can not vouch for them as we never made it out there. We stayed in a lovely hotel two blocks from the old quarter that had a lovely swimming pool and more than adequate air conditioning. If I were to return to Vietnam, I would likely make a point of returning to Hoi An just for being such a relaxed place with such good food.

At this rate, it is not clear that I will finish posting the pictures of our journey to Sri Lanka before we leave Sri Lanka. :^) I will try to make better progress so that I can eventually post some pictures of Sri Lanka itself, though, to be honest, I have not taken all that many pictures here yet.



1 Comment

  1. pat hovis said,

    November 25, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Hi Tim an Kris,
    I received the post card and wonderful card you sent. It is so thoughtful to share this adventure with both of you. I haven’t been to your blog for almost a month now. WOW.I love this. I feel like I’m out with National Geographic on assignment. We will pop open the champagne on Thanksgiving to toast your full professorship, I knew you could do it. Thanks Kris for the letter, and the prayers of the monks. I’ve been busy this month testing for the eventual lung transplant next year. Look out when I can breath again. I’ll send a photo card of the NW so you won’t forget your roots.I am so enjoying this , I will blog on more often. Sorry to hear about your stolen backpack and the mess it left you in. When I was in Japan I would smile a lot and give the peace sign back and forth, that put people in a happy mood. Zack is planning a trip to a remote island in Fiji next summer for a month. He’s looking forward to the foot long walking sticks. I bet there are some interesting looking bugs there. Tim your photos are great. Your taking photos of people and capturing real documentary work with a good eye. Must head off to bed, Hugs to you both. Keep a lookout in the mail. Love Patty

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