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After Hanoi, we flew to Hue, a former imperial city on the banks of the enigmatically named Perfume River.  We spent a mist-filled afternoon exploring the Citadel, a section of the city that is surrounded both by a moat and by tall, thick walls.  These safety precautions did little to defend the area from the Vietnamese-American War; huge swaths of the Citadel were razed during one of the bloodiest battles of the 1968 Tet Offensive.  Tourist dollars are helping to fund ongoing restoration efforts, and the results are already visible throughout the complex.  The Imperial City, a Citadel-within-a-Citadel that once housed the emperor’s residence and important state buildings, looked like a run-down version of Beijing’s Forbidden City but was remarkably free of the hordes of tourists that we’d seen there.
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Hue is known for its food, and we were all eager to (over-)indulge.  We didn’t find too much worth, um, writing home about, but perhaps we were just looking in the wrong places.  We did discover some great snacks at the local market, which buzzed with frenetic shoppers making last-minute purchases for the upcoming Tet celebrations.  Armed with sugary coconut strips and dried, shredded beef (it’s good–seriously…), we left Hue for what, we hope, will be the sunnier skies of Southern Vietnam.

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