Paradoxically: Inside The Forbidden City

I'm a castle geek, I've explored them in Denmark, England, France, Japan, Norway, and Sweden. My introduction to Vietnamese castles was the Purple City on the Perfume River in Hué. It certainly has elements of the fortresses I've toured in Tokyo and Kyoto but also had it's own distinct style. Certainly it did not have the same fortress-like feel of other castles and the city of Hué has become somewhat incorporated into parts of the citadel. Elements were strongly Japanese while other elements were uniquely Vietnamese, architectural elements of the castle having dispersed into the Vietnamese housing style. Most enjoyable was the exploration, as the Forbidden City is poorly labelled or mapped in English, so turning a corner or passing through a ramshackle portal would open up a new building, otherwise hidden by line of sight. Interestingly because it so warm in Vietnam but very wet in Hué there are many roofs connecting buildings but few walls.


The outer gate flying the yellow star.


The inner gate. When he was a student here Uan used to study here as it was cool in the summer.


Moat to the East


Moat to the West

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The koi ponds before the bridge to the reception courtyard and throne room

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Playing with the wildlife


Another view of the throne room


So what are Chinese characters doing in a Vietnamese palace?


Inside the inner wall of the Forbidden City



A replica of the royal seal


Trying to start a new custom, "drinking" from the great bronze vessels.

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Replicas of the columns that at one time supported a pavilion suspended on rope


The Royal Reading Pavilion

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Before the Royal Reading pavilion, office of the kings.


Isolated by a moat, this island holds another crumpled pavilion

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A Vietnamese-American ninja sprints from the water

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Another artificial island with a pavilion destroyed by the expansion of its vegetation

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Dragons atop the throne room

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In Dong Ba market, all those movies about people running through one of these markets are pure fiction. The population density prevents anything more than a slow crawl through the mob.

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Hué at night.


La Carambole serves French-Vietnamese fusion cooking and is highly rated by multiple guidebooks. They were very busy but the food and service did not meet guidebook inspired expectations.

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