Danang overtook Hoi An as the primary port in Central Vietnam and with the current growth in the country has become the fastest growing city in the nation. It has all the hallmarks of a quickly growing city: rough city planning being trampled by even faster development, flashy new architecture abutting rundown shanties, and a general feeling of sky-high possibilities. While the city has a lot to offer, Liz and I were really using it as a connection point for Hoi An and Hue. We were lucky enough to be in the city on a weekend with street celebrations going on along the riverfront promenade, so there was a lot of activity to immerse ourselves into. We saw the Marble Mountains in passing and visited the Lady Buddha (Chùa Linh Ứng) on the outskirts of the city.
We weren’t sure if we were going to visit Hue, but the trains ended up being all filled to get out right away, so that cleared up two days for us to see the old capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. Hue was the capital until 1945 and when Vietnam was divided it was the closest major city to the DMZ between North and South Vietnam.
Hue is lovely, situated on the Huong (Perfume) River. After the Vietnam/American War the historical sites of the city were ignored in reconstruction efforts as the government viewed them as ‘relics from the feudal regime’. Likely spurred by the tourist potential, that has largely changed and many sites have been restored. That said, Hue was very hard hit during the war and still bears many visible scars.
Hue is also notable for special foods that originated here. The story goes that King Hung Vuong VI became bored of eating the same dishes every day so he created a competition between his 22 sons. The crown would pass to the son that created the best and most unusual dish as the prize for winning the competition. I don’t know how valid that story is, but it sounds good and I’m enjoying ordering everything I can off the ‘local specialty’ list.
Hope everyone is doing great.
Danang and Hue pictures: