We were sad to leave the quaint environs of Hoi An, but it was time to push on. We didn't know what to expect from Hue, but our guidebook described it as "a heartbeat of Vietnam." Unfortunately, we were less than enthused by our visit. (More on that later.) Hue did have some marvelous attractions. The huge citadel once housed the royal family and is still quite a fortress. However, like most structures in this area of VietNam, it was decimated by war. Hue was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the Tet Offensive, and not much of the old citadel was spared.
We also took a dragon boat ride along the Perfume River to see a whole host of Pagodas and Tombs. I'm uncertain how the vast majority of these escaped destruction during the war, but thankfully they did. They seemed to get progressively more ornate and elaborate as we went. Of particular note was the Thien Mu Pagoda, which was a hotbed of anti-(US sponsored)-government in the 1960s, and its these seeds of discontent that led to the famous self-immolation of Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc in 1963. Many others would follow.
Now for our little rant. (Sorry.) There have been few -if any disparaging remarks about any feature of our travels, but some elements in Hue were completely overbearing -even for two seasoned travelers. I'm not quite sure why this was particular to Hue, in our experience, but it seemed that absolutely every Vietnamese we met was lying, coniving, cheating, and stealing. There was virtually no transaction that didn't come off with some sort of hitch -inflated bill, gouging exchange rate, incorrect change, reneg on previously agreed price, or completely fictitious promises. It doesn't even end there! Simple bargaining is expected almost everywhere, and often as foreigners we end up paying slightly more than fair price. This is expected. However, no where in our combined travel experience from the wilds of Africa to Central and South America have either of us encountered such blatant hostility or complete refusal to give us a fair price. It was on a whole new level in Hue. Interestingly enough, every other traveler we met had similar stories and felt much the same way. (Sorry for the venting -hopefully there won't be any more. And not to worry -we are still loving VietNam.)