January 17, 2003
The Tomb of Two Emperors
This morning we spent the last of our time in Hue touring the remnants from the citys time as imperial capital. The Citadel was impressive. It was sad, however, that little of the former grandeur of the Forbidden City it once protected still exists. Much of the outer buildings remain, but the interiors were almost completely destroyed by French bombing campaigns. It seems naïve, but it is hard to avoid asking why?
Afterwards, we visited the tombs of two emperors just outside the city. They couldnt have been more different. It was nice to leave the memory of violence behind for a while. The first tomb, that of Emperor Tu Duc, was practically a public park (see photo on next page). We were told that he used it as a residence and work place while he was still living; that accounted for the numerous buildings at the site. It felt like walking through a huge ornamental garden. The peacefulness and quiet harmony there made it easy to understand why an emperor would want to be buried in such a place. The next tomb, though, was largely influenced by French architecture. One has to climb numerous steps to reach the actual burial place at the top of a hill, and inside a museum-type building, lies the emperors body. A life-size casting of the leader is the centerpiece of a tomb ornately decorated with ceramic and glass mosaics.
It was soon time to make our way to the airport for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many. My stomach wasnt feeling too great, so I skipped lunch and just hung out in our spectacular hotel. Thank goodness for breakfast.