Last night we wandered around the corner for dinner. La Campagnia was fairly western but we all chose from the Vietnamese dishes. When in Rome.......
Very nice. We even chose to have a local bottle of white wine ( the first since we got here). 170,000 dong. ($8.50). It was just okay. Won't bother with another of the local stuff though. They struggle to get the drinks cold enough, whether it is water, beer, wine or soft drink. That determines where we eat. Are the drinks cold enough?
Lap was our guide for the half day tour if the city. First stop was across the river at the Imperial City. The Ngyuen Dynasty moved here in 1802 until 1945 when the last Emporer fled to France after the Communist uprising. Can't remember how many Emperors there were in that time but may have been 8.
The first one built the Imperial Palace with a huge brick wall around it. He had 500 wives and 5 would visit him each night! All lived in the Palace. Imagine the number of servants. About 120 children resulted from his nightly encounters. No wonder Ngyuen is the 2nd most popular name in the Melbourne phone book. The Palace covered a huge area and the money that was spent was obscene really. Fairly typical of Royal families. Quite a bit of the Palace was destroyed by various conflicts after the family fled. Shame, but costs to maintain it all would have been huge.
After that we headed to a wooden house (totally made from wood, no nails etc). It was built for family of the Dynasty.
Next stop was to watch incense sticks being made as well as the conical hats. Naturally there was the usual hard sell, just like everywhere you go.
Further onwards to the tomb of Tu Duc. He was the 4th Emperor. He spent 3 years building his tomb and associated buildings including a residence, temple, theatre, massive gardens etc. He had some helpers, about 6,000 of them! Again, massive wealth spent on one person. At the stalls across the road, we took in the freshly squeezed sugarcane and cumquat juice. It really was very nice.
Last stop was lunch at a cafe. Cost of $1. Included pancake, spinach broth, tofu with salsa, rice, spicy tuna, and morning glory in garlic. (Morning glory is a green vegetable a bit like brocollini, but with leaves on top). Bargain at that price and we are all still standing.
A couple of hours rest then we took a dragon putt putt boat down the Perfume River (it smelled pretty good really) to a Buddhist Pagoda. Probably had our fill of Historic sights by this stage. We also have to put up with the hard sell on the boat. As usual, somebody felt they had to buy something.
Today's photos include driving on a three way road, someone goes up the middle, suitable motorbike riding attire, various historic sights and some weary travelers at the end of the day.
Tomorrow we head to Hanoi for a couple of days.