Hue, Vietnam. Sunday 30th December.
We can’t decide if we have been to The Ancient Citadel, or The Imperial Purple City. I will check in guide book and report back. But we are both agreed that it’s nice to get out of the pouring rain and back into our warm and cosy room. I am sure Hue is beautiful in the sunshine, but today if I am totally honest, my day out in Hue, was a bit of a damp squib. It was one of those trips where you feel you should, because it’s there. But I think I spent a bit too much time looking at stuff in the gift shop (and the souvenirs are extraordinarily beautiful, hand painted kites, handmade incense, silks, lacquer pots, wooden bits and pieces). And too much of the time wishing I knew exactly who or what it was I was looking at, and the rest wishing I had read up more before I came out, or had paid to join a tour group.
It also rained. Continuously. And I was getting so drenched, despite wearing a raincoat and even though I know it’s a bad thing to do, I succumbed to buying a plastic poncho. And I fell over. (Karma?) But I did take some interesting photographs, and wondered how the Emperor and the Emperors before and after him managed to stay dry in the rainy season. Their clothing was exquisite, all those colourful silks, how did they keep them from getting soggy? Looking around at our modem day clothing, I do not think the Emperor would have been very impressed with how we have replaced his attire. Nor would David Attenborough be impressed by the sea of plastic raincoats.
But of course, silly me, there is a perfect way to stay dry. The traditional Non La, or Coolie Hat. A common sight in the Vietnamese countryside and the cities.
The story goes that once upon a time, during a torrential downpour of rain that lasted weeks, flooding lands and homes and causing unfavorable disturbances to the rural life, a graceful goddess descended from the sky. She was wearing on her head a giant hat made of four large leaves stitched together by bamboo sticks. This hat was so large that it guarded the people against all the rain, and she was able to dispel the clouds and rain, allowing the people to return back to a normal life.
Perhaps tomorrow I can try again as a Graceful Goddess.