Hanoi to Hue

Our overnight train trip from Hanoi to Hue began on the wrong platform and once that was straightened out the 16 of us crammed into 4 of the tiniest sleeping compartments i have ever seen. Two bunks up and two down. With no AC and windows that didn’t open,  the moving sauna complete with local fauna and some flora rolled south though the night. On the up side, the dawn was magical and the coffee excellent.

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Hue is north of Danang and what was the demilitarized zone in the Vietnam war. Parts of the city suffered damage during what is referred to here as the North and South Vietnamese conflict. The day in Hue was busy. we r only here for 1 day and made the most of it. Our first visit was to the Citadel and Forbidden city which was the seat of the emperors of Vietnam until 1945 – Hue was the capital of the country until then.

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On the way there I had a close encounter with a motorbike while crossing the road – motorbike got the worst of that and I ended up with a skinned shin. Following that episode we then spent time at the 400 yr old Mu Pagoda and finished up at the Emperors tomb. After a long walk through the complex and aimagea

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long build up it turns out that the guy isn’t even buried there (see below)  – lovely place though very peaceful.

Vietnamese burial rituals are an interesting blend of several religions and belief systems. Vietnamese believe in geomancy (feng shui) in life and death and the location of a grave is very important to ensure that family fortunes remain positive. Graves are located close by, in fields, rice paddies or in some instances at the foot of gardens by the house.

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Following an initial period of mourning which can last up to three years, the bones are removed from the first grave and interred in a smaller grave. Many families have spirit houses in front of their homes where offerings to ancestors are made. Grave locations may be altered if family fortunes decline in the hope that the family luck will improve. Funerals are important occasions and elaborate coffin makers can be found in most towns.

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Carol and I had a few minutes to indulge in some retail therapy to add some light clothing to our kits. It is hot and humid here – although there is a lovely breeze on the 7th floor restaurant and pool. We head for Hoi An tomorrow.

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