When I travelled from Da Lat to Nha Trang I took the bus it was an eight hour journey. The view was amazing and at the time I thought I should be on a bike now to appreciate earthing a little bit more. So when in Hoi An, a lovely place but I probably had a few more days than I needed I met Van an Easy rider. Basically he takes you on a tour on his bike, it might be 1 day, 2 days, a week, whatever you like.
The route that we decided on was…
Travel north of Hoi An towards Da Nang to visit the marble mountains. From there, drive inland through the hills and mountains towards the Laos border. They’re not the best photos and the weather was constant rain, but you get the idea, your up in the heavens. I was soaked for two days despite lots of water proof gear. From the mountains we headed north towards Hamburger hill where we stayed in a guest house, in total that day we had covered about 100km.
Early start the next day, and we head to Hue, renowned for the Imperial city, tombs and Pagodas. Late in the afternoon we headed over the Hai Van pass to reach Da Nang ready for my flight the next day to Hanoi. We arrived, the hotel had a bath! Yippee, what a stroke of luck, I was so tired of being wet!!!
Quite impressive, featuring Pagodas, sculptures, caves and many many steps and a climb through a narrow cave to a fantastic view (yes i followed the youngsters!) The highlight was the sculpture in the cave, I hope you get an idea of the scale of it. There were many Bhuddist and Hindu grottoes inside.
“Marble Mountains (Vietnamese: Ngũ Hành Sơn; “Five elements mountains”) is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngu Hanh Son ward, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam. The five ‘mountains’ are named after the five elements; Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it is possible to climb to the summit of one of the peaks. Several buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains, making this a famous tourist destination.
The area is famous for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts. Direct rock extraction from the mountains was banned recently. Materials are now being transported from quarries in Quảng Nam Province.
As of 2003 the district had a population of 50,105 . The district covers an area of 37 km². The district capital lies at Da Nang.”
Thank goodness they’re not taking marble from these mountains now.
The view from the top
A less common sight now. ploughing the Rice fields with the aid of a Buffalo.
As we carried on we stopped of the see the lifestyle of some Paco minority people. Here I photographed the communal hall, where celebrations, events and decisions for the community are made. The trophies displayed are animals they have been caught hunting. Van was telling me that this is changing, the animals are now a lot smaller, not like Bear and deer that they used to find. And of course over the last 25 years as the Ho Chi Minh trail/road was established, it is of course transforming their lives with access to the rest of the Vietnam and no longer an insular society that work and live and has contact with only themselves. It made me think that a lot of these minority and traditions will soon be lossed forever. Many fortunately still exist as they used to. but of course to get to them is a another very different trip!
The Tomb of Khai Dinh, the last emperor.
Located in Chau Chu mountain near Hue.
“In 1916, Khải Định became the Emperor of Vietnam. The Emperor worked closely with the government of France, and by the end of his reign he was considered to be nothing more than “a salaried employee of the French government.” Due to this close collaboration, he was very unpopular amongst the people of Vietnam. Like a number of Vietnamese emperors, Khải Định desired the preparation of a tomb in anticipation of his death, but he was the last member of the Nguyễn Dynasty to make this decision. Construction began in 1920 and concluded in 1931, with the Emperor increasing tax by 30 per cent to fund the lavish mausoleum. Before his 1925 death, the Emperor visited France where he was likely influenced by the architectural styles there, evidenced by the European influences in his Oriental mausoleum. The tomb was completed by Bảo Đại, Khải Định’s successor, in 1931.
Khải Định’s tomb’s surface area is much smaller than the tombs of his predecessors. However, the building itself is far more elaborately designed than others of its era, being a mix of a number of architectural styles. The tomb is of a rectangular structure leaning against Chau Chu Mountain in the outskirts of Huế. The side walls are formed by the biggest sculptures of dragons in all of Vietnam. The tomb is home to an imperial audience court, featuring a reinforced concrete stele monument, as well as twelve stone statues representing bodyguards. Close to the top floor is the Khai Thanh Palace, featuring intricately designed glass and porcelain decorations on the walls. The ceiling of the palace is decorated with nine intricate dragons. The rear room of the palace is home to a temple containing Khải Định’s grave, an altar to him as well as a statue of his likeness, cast in Marseilles.
Sorry quite “new” and unusual to see the structures made of concrete, but the non the less vey impressive, especially inside the tomb itself.
A guardian of the Pagoda
Hue Imperial city
Again from Wiki…
In June 1802 Nguyễn Phúc Ánh took control of Vietnam and proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long. His rule was recognized by China in 1804. Gia Long consulted with geomancers to decide which was the best place for a new palace and citadel to be built. After the geomancers had decided on a suitable site in Huế, building began in 1804. Thousands of workers were ordered to produce a wall and moat, 10 kilometers long. Initially the walls were earthen, but later these earthen walls were replaced by stone walls, 2 meters thick.
The citadel was oriented to face the Huong River to the east. This was different from the Forbidden City in Beijing, which faces south. The Emperor’s palace is on the east side of the citadel, nearest the river. A second set of walls and a second moat was constructed around the Emperor’s palace. Many more palaces and gates and courtyards and gardens were subsequently added. The rule of the last Vietnamese Emperor lasted until the mid-1900s. At the time, the Purple Forbidden City had many buildings and hundreds of rooms. It suffered from termite and cyclone damage, but was still very impressive. Many bullet holes left over from the war can be observed on the stone walls.
In the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, as part of the Tet Offensive a Division-sized force of North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers launched a coordinated attack on Huế seizing most of the city. During the initial phases of the Battle of Hue, due to Huế’s religious and cultural status, Allied forces were ordered not to bomb or shell the city, for fear of destroying the historic structures; but as casualties mounted in the house-to-house fighting these restrictions were progressively lifted and the fighting caused substantial damage to the Imperial City. Out of 160 buildings only 10 major sites remain because of the battle, such as the Thái Hòa and Cần Thanh temples, Thế Miếu, and Hiển Lâm Các. The city was made a UNESCO site in 1993. The buildings that still remain are being restored and preserved. The latest and so far the largest restoration project is planned to conclude in 2015.
An amazing site but the photos are not much due to the rain. I would love to see it again in the sunshine….