May 17th, 2016
I had time in the morning before I was to board my train from to Hoi An. Mimi, the girl who worked the front desk at the hotel, told me I had to see the Imperial City.
The Imperial City is an old walled compound, surrounded by a giant stone wall and a large moat. It was built by the Nguyen Dynasty in the early 1800’s as a central building for government and royal affairs. You can visit the throne room, royal temples, royal housing, areas where the prince’s were educated, and even a tennis court (one of the later emperor’s enjoyed westernized forms of entertainment). This imperial city was heavily damaged by American forces in the Vietnam War after the Viet Congs took over the city of Hue. You can still see the bullet holes in the walls and remenants of the buildings that were bombed.
I enjoyed strolling through the castle grounds, viewing the moats, the coy fish in the streams, and the small bridges which lined the walkways. It was a very majestic place to explore. It was also over 100 degrees, so I didn’t last very long. Let me tell you, Southeast Asia is HOT.
Afterwards, I bid farwell to my friends where I was staying and boarded the train for Hoi An.
What a train ride! It follows along a route called the Hai Van Pass, which is a winding route which travels through mountains and valleys, and then along the beach. One moment we’re riding through cliffs covered in fresh spring flowers, then suddenly we were through a tunnel and the train had a sheer drop on the other side leading to some of the most pristine blue beaches I’ve ever seen.
If you are ever in Vietnam, you MUST do this train route. It is once that I won’t soon forget! I finally arrived in Hoi An – and I was immediately off on my mission – to get handmade clothing!