Friday, March 13, 2020

Hue Scenes

The luxury van picked us up in Sapa early on February 25th and carried us, with only two luxury stops, to the Hanoi airport, arriving before 1PM. Alas, Bamboo Airlines doesn't permit check-in until 2 hours before departure, so we couldn't avail ourselves much time in the lounge. Alas. But it was a pretty crummy lounge anyway. We got to Hue just at sunset and a hotel taxi got us to our new home, the Alba Spa Hotel, pretty nice, just south of the Perfume River and the Citadel. The last several days being fairly intense, we just lazed for a day, pondering the future and trying to recover. The large hot water spa helped. Over the four days we were in Hue, the nation's capital during France's 19th-20th century "protectorate," we visited the Citadel and the Imperial Palace, the Don Ba market, and two of the Imperial Tombs outside of the city, each of which will warrant a post. Below are merely some of the Hue sights I encountered in my daily wanderings.

It is worth noting that this was our first venture into the former South Vietnam. Hue was one of the major battles in the war, from the 1968 Tet Offensive. It took three long weeks of bitter room-to-room fighting to retake Hue, a tactical victory for both the US and the ARVN. The Viet Cong was never again the factor they were prior to 1968, and most of the fighting, from the north, turned now to regular PAVN troops. 80% of this major city was destroyed, and several thousand of the city's leaders, down to neighborhood level, were massacred. Standard procedure for the VC. But, some historians (I read Max Hastings' monumental Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-75 while there) note, Hue was the turning point in US public opinion of the war. After Walter Cronkite's on-site report, Americans began to doubt what their leaders were telling them. LBJ is reputed to have observed, "If I've lost Cronkite, then I've lost Middle America." The war continued another seven years. For us, there was little joy in seeing this place, except for seeing how much changed and how much for the better it was for its people.
At the Hanoi airport: (western) capitalism triumphant! Drink
our coffee and you'll write like Hemingway, sing like Mozart
or Beethoven, invent like Tesla, command like Napoleon,
create like Leonardo...wait a second...Leonardo drank coffee?

Hanoi airport view from the Bamboo lounge

Friendly skies of Bamboo

Another gorgeous room in another gorgeous hotel...Vicki is so good at this

Hotel landscaping...back in the tropics

Corona deviled eggs?

First serving of my sushi extravaganza one night at the hotel

The neighborhood

Today's wedding pix

Today's influencer pix...what are these people going to do now?

Favorite Hue T-shirt

Vietnamese hat rack

Seriously; a well-stocked Harry Potter shoppe

Our hotel room overlooked the local police academy, providing endless

Riot gear, riot suppression practice; when in our camper, we often felt safer
parking by the gendarmerie; here, we were not quite so sure...

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