Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hue - Mausoleums and Cemetery

Back in the olden days, the emperors had some elaborate tombs built for them... while they were still alive. The tombs are like small parks, with ponds and streams and forests. This one is for a guy called Tu Duc... his tomb area was very peaceful and relaxing.

The gate to the tomb is pretty impressive.

And the pine forests are different from the surrounding jungle. So cool and serene.

Oh boy... these are the steps to one of the tombs (there are several here). I think this must be a super important person's tomb because there are so many steps but no... this was just Tu Duc's adopted son's tomb and it is the smallest one here!

More stairs??? Ugh...

Oh look... a flower!! I think I'll just distract Mama from all these stairs and wander off somewhere else!

Oh... this is Mr. Tu Duc's tomb! It is huge!! The tombs are designed as a square within a square. The space between the outer and the inner square tells you how important someone is... big space means big importance. The inner square opening is shielded by a free-standing wall... so the evil spirits can't get in?

Another dragon! Remember what they do?? They scare away the evil spirits... RAHHH!!!

Oh my goodness... there was this huge plaque with a big story on it... It tells the story of Tu Duc's life... a self-critical autobiography apparently. This is when you learn about all the bad things he did in secret!

It was pretty neat here and there were many things to see...

Hey... I'm a mahout (elephant trainer)! I keep asking Mama when I'll get to ride a real elephant instead of stone elephants but she just mutters something under her breath about impatient little bears...

Oh and there was a horse here too! I haven't ridden any stone horses yet... giddyup! No, wait... was there a horse in Can Tho??? I can't remember anymore... this has been a beary long trip!

These guys are guardians along with the stone elephants and horses.

On our way back to town, we bicycled past a real cemetery (not an imperial one)... "Lemme out, Lemme out"!!! I have been wanting to take pictures of these our whole trip to show Sullivan McPig who likes cemeteries. Vietnam cemeteries and graves are different from western ones.

So... here we have a cemetery... hmmm... it's out of focus! Many times the graves are clustered together, like here. But sometimes you will see graves in rice fields, just plunked down in the middle, with no apparent rhyme or reason. The living like to have their ancestors nearby, so will bury them and then farm around them.

Here's a grave... see how they have a wall around them - just like at the imperial tombs. And then the opening is shielded by another wall... I think it has something to do with Feng Shui.

The cemeteries are all very overgrown with weeds and stuff...

Here you can see one of the shielding walls.

And those are dragons up at the top... keeping the evil spirits at bay.

This cemetery was on a hill with a rice paddy below it. That is very good Feng Shui - to have a mountain/hill behind and water/rice fields in front. Very auspicious!
There is a whole ritual associated with the ancestors here in Vietnam. Ancestors are very important and their death day is a big day of remembrance for the family.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hue's Citadel

Holy moly... it was hot on the day I went to the Citadel in Hue. I got out my Vietnamese to shade my head. This is the flag that flies over the front of the citadel... it wouldn't blow in the breeze for me though.

The Citadel is huge!! And is like a box in a box in a box. The outer Citadel is surrounded by a wide moat crossed by bridges at strategic points. There is a thick wall on the inside part of the moat with big gates where the bridges are. Within the outer wall there is a whole area where you have shops and houses and people live there. Because inside Citadel #1 is the Imperial Enclosure.

This is one of the big gates going through the wall...

There were some cannons here... but they are "fake" - never meant to be fired and just for show...

Whew... now we are in the Imperial Enclosure. There was an imperial palace here... And it was super hot!!!

Oh look... big cauldrons... I wonder if they use them for honey?

Let me check...

Nope, there is just water here and...

Floating money (and sunken money)! That note is 1000 Dong - about half a cent! I guess the Vietnamese don't have coins to throw into fountains and pools so they throw in their "small change" notes!

Within the imperial enclosure is something called the Forbidden Purple City. This sounded beary interesting to me!!! Was it purple?? No... it had actually been pretty much obliterated during the French War and the American/Vietnamese War... They are starting to rebuild some buildings - like this one - but it isn't purple!

Did I mention it was hot??? And not a stitch of shade for a furry little bear. This is inside the Forbidden Purple City. Only the emperor could come in here... and servants who were eunuchs.

Yay!!! Some water!!! This was a cute little pond with lotus flowers in it.

And a bit farther along there was a bridge across the pond to a pretty garden with bonsai trees. It was beary tranquil and peaceful here. I wondered where all the tourists were... but it was the middle of the day so they were being beary sensible and having lunch during the heat of the day!!

Me... I am traipsing around getting a little bear version of heat stroke! Oh look... a dragon... there are dragons everywhere in Vietnam. I finally learned that the Vietnamese believe that dragons scare away evil spirits so... they are protectors.

The imperial enclosure also had some cool artwork. If you look at this, you might think it was a painting or something but...

It isn't!! It's made from lots of broken bits of procelain... sort of a mosaic.

Down in the southwest corner of the imperial enclosure was a rebuilt temple area (it had also been destroyed during the war). But now it looks beary pretty.

More cauldrons... too bad they don't have honey. If I was Emperor Sandy, I would make sure they were filled with honey!! Not sure if it would be liquid or creamed though...

I even got to see some traditional Vietnamese dancers...  They were beary good and made it all look so easy!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sekretarial Glitches

Hullo!! Due to a confused and tired Sekretary (a.k.a. Mama) some of my post-dated blogs have popped up today and then been taken back to come out in a few days. Sorry!! It's hard to find good help nowadays!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Moto from Hoi An to Hue

Well... I have traveled many different ways on this trip, but today was the day that I got to travel from Hoi An to Hue via motorcycle. Of course there aren't helmets small enough for little bears (of course...) So I couldn't ride as a passenger like the humans but had to ride in a back pack. I wondered how the motorcycles were going to transport backpacks... but they had racks on the back where they strapped things down.

Our first stop was the Marble Mountains near Danang - there were some beautiful pagodas on the mountains. And some caves with statues... beary pretty.

And yes - there actually is quite a bit of marble at the Marble Mountains - and the people here are renowned for their marble carvings. Lots of dragons and lions and warriors and buddhas... but not a single bear statue!!

Then we drove by China Beach and headed up to Hai Van pass. It was a strategic spot during several wars so there are some old French and US bunkers here.

After the pass, there was a stop at Elephant Springs - a river with big pools between large boulders. It was a Sunday so it was super crowded!!

And then finally... we are in Hue!! Hue is the ancient imperial capital of Vietnam. Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged during the war and you can see remnants of this all over the city. There are also vendors selling old military equipment, like these canteens.

And meal plates and bags...

And tonnes of medals and insignia from military units - some Vietnamese, and some American.

I am just a little bear so I don't recognize most of these!

Although this one, which has an eagle and the word Airborne, looks like it should be US.

Hue is also famous for its incense sticks. There is a village nearby where you can buy all sorts of incense sticks. They paint the bottoms of the incense sticks various colours so you know what the "flavour" of incense is.

And they get pretty creative in their display of these sticks!!

It's a flower!!

And there are some of the finished incense sticks drying in the son. These ones were cinnamon... I think... More adventures to come!