Dong Ba Market, located in Hue on Vietnam’s central coast, has existed in one shape or form since the late 1800s. The indoor portion of the market is packed with crafts and kitchenware, hawked by some very aggressive vendors. Outside, fresh vegetables and fish are sold with a lot less vigor.
Our guide woke us up early on the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue as we approached the Ben Hai River, better known as the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam. A group of women were already hard at work, repairing the area near the railroad tracks.
Women working on the train tracks near the Ben Hai River.
Happiness is a cool fan, or two cool fans in this case. A brief reprieve from the humidity at a restaurant near Hue’s Imperial City.
For the most part, the locals haven’t paid much attention to us, but these two young Buddhist monks-in-training kept shooting us glances while we ate. They were happy to oblige when we asked to take a photo. We were drawn to their unique haircuts. When the boys enter the monastery, their heads are shaved with the exception of three distinct areas. As they pass different milestone exams, a section is shaven off. The last tuft of hair can grow quite long as they strive toward the final exam.
A building inside Hue’s Imperial Palace. The palace was heavily damaged during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. Of the 160 buildings in the complex, only 10 survived the battle. The remaining buildings were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 and restoration work continues to this day.
A golden dragon statue inside the Purple Forbidden City section of the Imperial Palace. Similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing, the area was restricted to only the imperial family.
The Purple Forbidden City’s courtyard. The two round bushes to either side of the garden are trimmed in the shape of turtles.
A princess in the Imperial Palace.
Only parts of the Imperial Palace have been restored. In a few places, we could see the stark contrast of what was and what will be.
Hearing about the other side of the Vietnam War has been one of the more fascinating parts of this experience. Outside the Imperial Palace, a museum displays captured U.S. artillery and aircraft like trophies, listing the dates and locations when they were taken by the Communist-led People’s Army.
While I snapped pictures outside the military museum, Viktoria was making friends with some kids playing soccer in the shadow of Thuong Tu gate, one of the entrances to the outer grounds of the Imperial Palace known as the Citadel. One boy acted as the group’s spokesman, telling us they were 14 years old and in the eighth grade at a school down the road.
A Mary Poppins moment along the Perfume River.
This pretty much sums up pedestrian life in Vietnam.
Garlic, ginger, shallots, hot peppers and lime. I hoped whomever bought this lady’s veggies at Dong Ba Market would invite us over for dinner!
A typical transaction in Dong Ba Market between a vendor in a nón lá (conical hat) and a scooter rider.
More Photo of the Day posts from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam