Some downtime at the airport means a chance to catch up on these posts; we’ve been busy.
Hue, a town in central Vietnam, is the centre of Buddhism in Vietnam. Once the seat of Vietnam’s royal family it’s also full of history.
We were only there for two days and one night, but managed to see a fair bit in that time. Our visit started with a tour of the Tu Duc Royal Tomb. Just outside of town and very picturesque, the tomb complex was beautiful and one of Katy’s favorite stops. Though Hue was founded in the 17th century, I was surprised to find that the Tombs date from the 19th century (1802-1945). This seems to be a bit of a common theme in Vietnam, everything being from more recent history than I anticipated.
After the Royal Tomb we toured the Citadel. Again from the 19th Century, the design is a mix of Chinese design principles and French military design. Though there has been a bunch of restoration, you can see some of the damage left by fighting during the Tet Offensive from the American War.
After a quick stop for lunch at a restaurant called Lac Thien for some delicious Banh Khoi, we went to the Thien Mu Pagoda. The Pagoda provided three things: great pictures, as usual, a moral dilemma, and the title of this post. The picture below illustrates the moral dilemma, is it appropriate to take pictures of people participating in religious acts? In this case, the ceremony was open to the public, which is how I justified this picture, but I’m always a bit unsure.
Now for the post headline. As we were walking around the grounds of the Pagoda, Maggi, a member of our group from Britain, decided to visit the toilet. She saw the WC sign and a monk coming out of a door. As he left, in she went.
About 10 minutes later, I decided to take advantage of the toilet before our boat ride down the Perfume River back to our hotel. I headed off in the in the same direction as Maggi had gone earlier. However, when I got closer I noticed that beneath the WC on the sign it said “20 m” with an arrow. With this additional information, I walked past the building Maggi had entered and found a full public toilet. Needless to say, this left me wondering where Maggi had gone.
As we sat on the boat, I asked Maggi how her trip to the toilet had gone. She looked at me somewhat oddly before explaining how there had been a small hole in the corner and a bucket of water with a ladle of some sort that she used to pour water down the hole when she was finished. I smiled and watched her face get increasingly red as I told her of my discovery 20 meters down the path. The best we can figure, with some input from our guide, is that she used the monks’ shower as her toilet. It could have been worse, a monk could have walked in on her.
The moral of the story, don’t blindly follow religious figures. They might not be leading you where you think. Oh, and always read the fine print.