Vietnam Gallery ~ Hue
Select any image to enlarge.

Ngo Mon Gate ~ Panoramic
December 06 2001

Ngo Mon gate is the main entrance to the Imperial Palace and the spot from which the last Vietnamese emperor, Bao Dai, abdicated to Ho Chi Minh's Provisional Revolutionary Government in 1945, ending almost 150 years of Nguyen Dynasty rule. Hue is a city of walls and gates that no longer guard anything. When the North Vietnamese took the town during the Tet Offensive, the American bombardment leveled the town, killed the inhabitants and virtually wiped away hundreds of years of historic buildings. It was this kind of fighting that led to the famous quote "We had to destroy the town in order to save it."

 

Decrepit gates ~ The Imperial Palace
December 06 2001

Like so much in the area, the once magnificent Imperial palace at the centre of the Citadel suffered the ravages of war and revolution. That evident violence (the center picture shows a gate where bullet holes can still clearly be seen) along with the decay that has been allowed to take hold, tells a greater story than any imagined magnificence this place once enjoyed.

 

The walls of the citadel
December 02 2001

After the infamous Tet offensive of 1968 the Vietcong held Hue for 25 days, far longer than any other city or town overrun at that time. Americans and South Vietnamese troops reclaimed the city but at huge loss of civilian life and with great damage to the historic sites that abound in this one time imperial capital. Vietnam is a poor country and is slow to restore the massive damage done. What can still be clearly seen are the walls and moat of the old citadel. First walled in 1804 and further fortified by the French at the beginning of the 19th century, today the moat is used for agriculture. The fortified gate you can see here is barred, where there is a small squatter settlement now cluttered.

 

Swords into ploughshares
December 04 2001

Following the fall of South Vietnam and the unification of the country under the Communists, the land reform that had already taken place in the North finally reached the south. Landlords were dispossessed (or worse) and peasants were able to farm all available land. This seems to have included even the tops of the wide walls surrounding Hue's Citadel. This is a view from one of the guardtowers.

 

Hue city gate
December 02 2001

A closer look at the disused city gate that squatters now call home

 

 

 

 

Textures from the Imperial palace
December 06 2001

Looking closely at the intricate mosaics in the Imperial Palace, I thought a restoration crew was short on funds and had been forced to use whatever material came to hand. The green bamboo in the bottom left is bottle glass and the clouds on the bottom right are made up of broken bits of porcelain. I later read that the Vietnamese kings used second hand items to emphasize their humility, easy to do when you're the richest man in the land.

 

Tu Duc's Stele
December 06 2001

Emperor Tu Duc was born at the wrong time. Under increasing pressure from the diplomatically more sophisticated and militarily more muscular French, poor Tu Duc was bullied into signing away his kingdom piece by piece. He was even forced to turn his own subjects into Opium addicts to raise money to pay war reparations to the conquerors - a war the French had started. Thinking of posterity, when Tu Duc planned his grand mausoleum it included this stele telling the story of his life. He composed the obituary himself and was careful to show his humility by mentioning mistakes he had made during his reign - the irony is that he chose to record his humility on the largest stone stele in all of Vietnam. It took four years just to transport it here to his mausoleum.

 

Dong Ba Market
December 03 2001

I think I found the source of inspiration for the lovely conical hats

 

 

 

 

Bean bonanza
December 03 2001

beans, beans good for the heart . . .

 

 

 

 

Silhouette in the Imperial palace
December 06 2001

Inside a restored part of the Forbidden Purple City

 

 

 

 

Young Buddhists
December 06 2001

The boy on the left, dressed a little like a boy scout, is actually wearing the uniform of his Buddhist 'Sunday School.' The boy on the right is an aspirant studying at the temple to become a monk.

 

 

Moat at Sunset
December 04 2001

Sunset colors the water of the citadel's moat



   

 

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