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Continuing on my Hue

VIETNAM | Friday, 16 June 2017 | Views [189]

Hue, Vietnam


Hue was sort of an obligatory short stop to see the Imperial City. A few other small occurrences added a little spice to the visit. Hue is a busy little city with the continuing trend of many motorbikes, cars, and lots of honking. At this point I was really feeling the need for an escape to a quieter lazy place, but I stayed a few days. Oddly, the city has a large group of young Vietnamese that crowed the restaurants and night life scene. Seeing this group was sort of a new dynamic; they appeared to be more affluent with an average of about 25 years old.

I had heard that most of the westerners hung out in this evening at this bar called Brown Eyes, so I planned on checking it out. But first I wanted to stop by this other club called Astra. I heard about it from someone who described it as sort of a shwanky dance club where you have a personal waiter and they bring you a complimentary fruit plate. I usually relax in the evening and go to bed early so I haven't done the night life stuff yet. I figured this might be the place to do it given the cluster of younger crowds and Hue being a smaller city with a safe feel. I decided to go to Astra first. I walk in to a colored laser light show with high volume rapid tempo rave music and a dance floor front and center. I was ushered to a table and shortly a waiter came to see me. The place was entirely full of Vietnamese locals, I was the ONLY western person. I order one beer just to appease the waiter, but I knew I really wanted to dance.
The dance floor had only young Vietnamese boys out there dancing. I asked the waiter why I didn't see any women dancing but I'm not sure he understood the question. I moved my way near the center of the floor and started letting loose. The boys immediately thought this was the greatest thing they've ever seen and the women on the sides of the dance floor were equally amused and almost in shock that I had the courage to go out there. The Asian women were often quite dolled up and more submissive or reserved, cutting loose wasn't their thing. I stayed for a few songs, went and paid the waiter and headed out. I'm not sure who had the better experience. I briefly stopped by the other bar but I was less than impressed so I stayed for a few songs then headed back to my hotel.

The next day I visited the Imperial City, a walled fortress surrounded by a mote. Built by Emperor Gia Long beginning in 1805, the fortress includes two main parts: the Citadel and The Forbidden City. The former was a protected barrier for the Forbidden City which was where the royal family stayed. The Imperial City has ten main gates and many additional houses, mansions, and gardens. The city was made a UNESCO Site in 1993. The crimson and gold building toward the front of the compound have tiered roofs guarded by dragons on all four corners. The wood faces of the buildings are beautifully carved with images of cranes, cherry blossom trees, swirling cloud patterns, and of course more dragons. Toward the less visited part of the grounds laid a few more dilapidated building undergoing restoration. I stumbled across a garden in this area that had a large lotus filled rectangular pond. I've noticed the lotus flowers bloom more when they are viewed less. A small bridge crossed over the pond and connected two small orchards of bonsai trees scattered in pots; I marveled at their petite perfection.
I wasn't expecting much from the Imperial City but was pleasantly surprised. One of those attractions on a check list that was an appreciated recommendation.

That evening I packed up my stuff and went across the street for a cup of ginger tea at the cafe. When the waiter brought the tea out it was your standard hot water with ginger tea bags. An additional plate with a variety of ingredients was also brought out. The English speaking waiter came over to explain to me the ingredients and explained the how and why each piece was essential to the tea. The plate had a slice of lime, a slice of orange, some sort of root, a brown fruit seed, chunks of sugar, and salt. I was to let it all steep for a bit then he later returned and told me it was ready to drink. I'm not sure how to describe it, I tasted a hint of all the ingredients. He told me it was very good for my health and spirit. I drank, imaging I was nourishing some parts of me; a physical and emotional recharge.

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