What a way to go!

We had to be at Hue’s airport by noon, so we started our morning early, with a boat ride up the Perfume River to visit the Beautiful Lady Pagoda and two of the Mausoleums.

Which dragon boat will be ours?

Which dragon boat will be ours?

Since we are the only passengers, we can sit anywhere we want.

Since we are the only passengers, we can sit anywhere we want.

The lady of the boat was also in charge of the “gift shop”. She’s very happy because I overpaid for a couple of items. Even Buddha is laughing at me! But she is pregnant, so I don’t feel bad about contributing to her unborn child’s well being.
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At one time, each of the seven layers in the tower contained a gold Buddha statue, but overtime, they all disappeared.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Tower at Thien Mu Pagoda

Also on site is the car that was used to drive Thich Tri Quang, the monk that set himself on fire in Saigon. He was protesting the persecution of the Buddhists by the South Vietnamese Catholics, led by Diem.
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Once again, I learned that I can’t leave Mike alone.

Everywhere he goes, Mike attracts attention!

Everywhere he goes, Mike attracts attention!

This guy attracted MY attention.

Yes, those eyebrows and that beard ARE made of real hair

Yes, those eyebrows and that beard ARE made of real hair

The ruling class did not suffer from low self esteem, as evidenced by their mausoleums. No humble hole in the ground for them. Their mausoleums also functioned as parks; they were so lovely the emperors used to spend time there while still alive.
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There are seven levels, and 127 steep steps to the top.

There are seven levels, and 127 steep steps to the top.

Bao Dai, the “playboy” emperor, abdicated in 1945, but before he left, he constructed this tomb to honor his father, Khai Dinh. It was quite dazzling, with all the gold.

Life sized statue of Khai Dinh

Life sized statue of Khai Dinh

But one statue is never enough.
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The queen’s photo hangs on the top level. She doesn’t look very happy, but then, neither would I if Mike had scores of concubines.
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I know that if “my girls” had been with me, THEY would have put on a costume and sat on the throne for me to photograph. Mike was not as cooperative, so I had to make do.
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Time to leave for Hue’s airport. There are no jetways, so we walked down a flight of stairs, to the outside, where we boarded a bus that drove about 100 feet to the plane for our flight to Hanoi.

Yep, we DID ride that bus all the way to the plane.

Yep, we DID ride that bus all the way to the plane.

The Citadel

As befitting the one time capital of Vietnam, Hue has a citadel, complete with a couple of moats, cannons and majestic gates with names like Gate of Everlasting Happiness.

If this isn't the Gate of Everlasting Happiness, it SHOULD be.

If this isn’t the Gate of Everlasting Happiness, it SHOULD be.

Gate detail. The Vietnamese are descendants of dragons and fairies

Gate detail. According to legend, the Vietnamese are descendants of dragons and fairies

We’ve all seen cannons, so you don’t need to see the whole thing, but I’ll bet you’ve never seen cannons as fancy as the ones at Hue.

The Vietnamese are incredible craftsmen. This is one of the "four seasons" guns.

The Vietnamese are incredible craftsmen. This is one of the “four seasons” guns.

The emperor lived in the Forbidden Purple City with his wives, concubines, daughters, young sons and female servants. If any male, other than the emperor, (or one of the eunuchs) attempted to enter the Purple City, he was put to death. I was quite excited about wandering thru the forbidden city, but unfortunately it was flattened during the Tet offensive or America’s response. Nothing remains of the emperor’s residence.

You'll just have to use your imagination to conjure up the Forbidden City. Here is where it stood.

You’ll just have to use your imagination to conjure up the Forbidden City. Here is where it stood.

These galleries of Hue’s citadel have been restored and give you an idea of the glorious days of old.

Restored gallery

Restored gallery

Our tour guide had gone to college in Hue, so he was full of great restaurant and bar restaurants. Instead Mike and I opted to have a wonderful dinner on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, enjoying the perfect weather and the beautiful view.

The view of the Perfume River from our room

The view of the Perfume River from our room

Speaking of our room, I’m not sure why the Mercure Hotel thinks showering is a spectator sport. Both of the Mercure Hotels had a “viewing” option. See what I mean?

This might have been a good idea 30 years ago...

This might have been a good idea 30 years ago…

One more day of our private tour, a day in Hanoi, then I’ll be telling you all about my Global Volunteers experience.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for–the answers to the last contest’s questions
1. We visited Halong Bay on this trip. Although Angkor Wat IS indeed a wonder of the world, it is man made, not a natural wonder.
2. Early in the morning, in Luang Prabang, the monks beg for their food.
3. The best way to tour Hanoi’s old quarter is a matter of opinion. Both Cyclo and on foot are correct, and yes, Lis, this was a trick question!
4. This question was specially for Kristy because of her fondness for the dong. The answer is Vietnam.
5. I lost my glasses once, but was able to retrieve them, because I remembered where I had left them–but Mike and his hat have parted ways for good.
6. The GI’s called the beach at DaNang “China Beach” because of all the porcelain they found there.

Next stop, HoiAn

After our Road Scholar trip ended, Mike and I started Part Three of our Asian Adventure, this time just the two of us, traveling through Central Vietnam with a guide and driver, arranged by Ann Tours.

We flew from Hanoi to DaNang, where our guide Ahn met us. Although the buses were comfortable, and air conditioned, it still felt rather luxurious to have a Mercedes all to ourselves.

What remains of the former US airbase at DaNang

What remains of the former US airbase at DaNang

Modern DaNang, with its new bright yellow serpent bridges.

Modern DaNang, with its new bright yellow serpent bridges.

The Cham Museum contains sculptures from My Son, a religious sanctuary dating back to the 4th century. When an area was conquered, the invaders cut off the heads and hands of the religious statues to decrease their power.

Lakshmi's hands were originally holding a lotus blossom

Lakshmi’s hands were originally holding a lotus blossom

But more interesting to me was this frieze, showing the art of massage dated back more than 1600 years in Central Vietnam.

I can't let all those years of expertise go to waste.  There will be a massage in my future!

I can’t let all those years of expertise go to waste. There will be a massage in my future!

We made a quick stop at DaNang’s beach, better known by the American soldiers as China Beach because of all the porcelain found buried in the sand. Here’s one of the few “G” rated photos from that stop.

"China" Beach

“China” Beach

Last stop before HoiAn was in the Marble Mountains. We climbed well over 100 steps that were carved into the mountain, all with different sized steps (steep, steeper, steepest).

The lady in blue decided I would make a dandy handrail, so she grabbed onto me as she climbed down

The lady in blue decided I would make a dandy handrail, so she grabbed onto me as she climbed down

At the top of the first "staircase", smiling Buddha (happiness), with a fat belly (prosperity) and long ears (longevity)

At the top of the first “staircase”, smiling Buddha (happiness), with a fat belly (prosperity) and long ears (longevity)was waiting to welcome us.

As we climbed higher, the view got better.
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But the most awe inspiring experience was when we entered the huge cave.

Sunlight from holes in the roof of the cave gave the interior a very spiritual feel

Sunlight from holes in the roof of the cave gave the interior a very spiritual feel

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Our hotel was fantastic–my very favorite of the entire trip.

Welcome drink and fruit at the HaAn Hotel

Welcome drink and fruit at the HaAn Hotel

Yes, those are rose petals on the bed

Yes, those are rose petals on the bed


Check out the shower. You can see the plants hanging on the back wall if you look in the mirror. And yes, there were flowers scattered at the bases of the shower and the toilet.
Stones in the shower.  You stand on that white platform under the shower head.

Stones in the shower. You stand on that white platform under the shower head.


Our tour company booked us here for three nights. Great choice!