Get it? Get it? Hihihi. If you didn’t, you can listen to the pronunciation of this place on Wikipedia. Before going to the tomb, I bought Linh and myself a cup of sugarcane juice (VND 15,000/cup). They process the sugarcane in front of you before pouring the liquid extraction over a cupful of ice. I have been hooked ever since!
There were a couple of tombs you can visit in Huế since it’s the imperial city and all. I didn’t really plan on visiting each one, so I just asked Linh which were the most memorable ones. He suggested the Tomb of Kai Dinh (link at the bottom of this post) and Tu Duc Tomb (VND 100,000).
It was bigger than Kai Dinh’s tomb, probably because Tu Duc had the longest reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. Since it was finished long before he died, he also resided here aside from his residence in the Citadel (which is for another post). It had its’ own man-made lake, Luu Khiem Lake, for fishing and boating.
This tiny island is called Tinh Khiem. The emperor goes here to hunt for leisure. Edi ikaw na!
The Chi Kiem Temple was dedicated to the minor wives of Tu Duc and his predecessors. He had more than a hundred wives and concubines! Can you imagine sleeping with that much people? I’d fear for my health. And yes, this were the thoughts running through my head while walking along here. Haha!
I did read that some of the emperors take in the daughters of their subordinates to ensure their loyalty. That is actually a very wise move! I’d take great care in ensuring the emperor favors my daughter by doing everything with his interest in mind.
He has this much space (12 hectares), and I’m guessing he wanted to maximize it while he was living that he decided to use it as a summer house as well. Yes, touring without a guide and any background on a place has made me reach for my own conclusions.
This huge place had the foundation of thousands of workers’ forced labor and the people’s taxes, that they had to suppress the laborer’s revolt. As a “solution”, he added “Khiem” to the names of the temples to appear modest. Politicians then and now are so similar, they just adapted their way to the modern times. Countless wives, marrying for connections and building their own palaces out of the people’s hard earned money.
A burst of life in an otherwise desolate courtyard.
Bring a hat and a pair of sunnies for yourself. I may have gained a few wrinkles here from squinting too much.
To the right are the remains of the concubines, or their area (?). I didn’t quite understand the sign. 😦
The emperor docks his boat here in Du Khiem Pavilion, which was right in front of the palace gate. Unfortunately, the palace was under restoration when I went, along with a lot of the buildings in the tomb.
This is the Xung Khiem Pavilion where the emperor hangs out with his concubines, writes poetry, and relaxes. #LivingTheEmperorLife
My second cup of sugarcane juice. I sat in one of the benches while I watched tour groups linger, and kept my ears open for the tour guides spouting off interesting tidbits about the place.
A word of advice: wear the comfiest pair of walking shoes you have if you plan to go here. This place is huge!
If I didn’t know it was a mausoleum, I would have believed it was a majestic park. No wonder the emperor escaped the hustle bustle of the citadel and went here to enjoy the frangipani littered walkways.
The Tomb of Tu Duc, ironically, only has his stele in his royal mausoleum. Where his body is buried, along with his treasures, is one of Huế’s greatest secrets. Sounds like a great idea for the next Da Vinci Code (Asian edition).
He had to write his own epitaph, which was written on the biggest stele of all of Vietnam, that it took four years to arrive from the quarry. The photo below is of his obelisk, which apparently represents his power.
I’m not even sure why they built the tomb if he wasn’t going to be buried there. In order to keep the secret of his burial site, all the laborers present to bury the king was beheaded when they got back. *chills*
Buu thanh, the precious wall that surrounds the royal crypt.
They keep the emperor’s relics in a huyen cung and a thach than is placed on top of it (according to the sign outside).
The Khiem Tho Tomb is for Empress Le Thien Anh, the emperor’s first wife.
Boi Tomb is for the Emperor’s adopted son (his nephew) since he didn’t produce any sons of his own. However, he only reigned for 8 months and died (he was murdered) at the age of 15. The Chap Khiem Temple is dedicated to him.
So many stairs in this place. T_T
When I finally finished touring the tomb, Linh drove to our next destination but did a stop over at an incense store.
He talked to the woman making incense, and she taught me how to use the different powders (cinnamon, sandalwood, etc.) with water and some kind of glue that holds it together, before putting it onto the stick. Linh took a candid photo of me smiling when I succeeded in making one.
Linh took a lot of photos of the incense store (photos below are his) while the girl tried to get me to buy a pack of incense for VND 80,000. Tourist trap! I didn’t buy anything though because I never use incense at home.
Next up is the last leg of my tour with Hue Riders! I thought I could fit it all in this one but I included so many photos from the Tomb of Tu Duc that it’s gotten too long, and now I’m too sleepy to write some more. My writing process has been quite therapeutic. I have been really stressed out.. and I keep using that as an excuse to procrastinate, so I force myself to make/polish a draft for this blog every day, and while I immerse myself in fun memories, I temporarily forget the now and do not realize that I have sat here for 2 hours already. Nice.