I didn't get much lead time on this one and received the specifications and story right as I was beginning my work week. As a result I'm not completely satisfied with it, but it turned out alright. In the future I want to really fill the space more.
Another little factoid about Hue City. It is the site of a number of national breweries, some of them financed by foreign investors, but nevertheless the root of a new microbrew tradition in the 'Nam. As far as I can tell, it is all still lager style beer, nothing really remarkable, although Huda ain't bad or expensive (relatively speaking). But hey, the labels are nice. I also included another watery lager beer named after the capitol.
Of course, another thing I did in Hue was to eat a lot of food. As with many, many parts of the world that are really hot climatically, there is something of a tradition of spicy food. Possibly the best known is Bun Bo Hue, or beef noodle soup, Hue style. It was the first thing I ate the day I got there.
Thick, soba-like noodles, thin sliced tender beef, sliced onions, lettuce and a rich spicy broth. I can almost taste it again.But wait, what is this?
It is also Bun Bo Hue, but it looks totally different. So what you're saying is that "Hue style" doesn't really mean much? Well, yes and no, you can get it in Saigon too, so......
Then again, as with Pho in Vietnam, you never know what you're going to get. This guy was right around the corner from my hotel and didn't speak a word of English, nor did I speak a word of Vietnamese, so I pointed and smiled and got something delicious.
Pho Ga, or chicken Pho. Look at all those little chilies I put on top.
Real Change book-review illustration. I'm getting bored of doing book review stuff, but it's still entertaining if that makes any sense. I just want to do an editorial or something. The book was called Smoking Typewriters and was about the underground press (not comics) of the 1960's. I had some other ideas that had richer historical content, but these seemed too specific for the review which was not specific.
I was trying to figure out a good position for the Soyuz 11 astronaut to be floating in. Realistically anything would work, but visually it has to be "right". Plus he's mummified and frozen, so there's that too. I think you can see where this is going. Also, an early version of the Smoking Typewriters piece I did for Real Change.
From Hoi An I was able to catch a bus straight to Hue, and almost literally from hotel to hotel.
Of all the places I had wanted to go in Vietnam before I ever thought I would actually get the chance, Hue City was at the top of the list for several reasons. First, it was the site of some of the heaviest most intense fighting of the Tet Offensive of 1968, it was also the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynastic period, and the central portion of the city consists of a walled fortress city surrounded by moats and the Perfume River.
I've never been a particularly big fan of architecture, or Asian architecture, but it is nevertheless interesting to visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace. It is as one might imagine, the primary tourist destination in Hue. And it's pretty hard to miss, it's right in the center of town. My hotel was only a few blocks away so I walked over the bridge on the Perfume and through the gate. Within the outer walls is more Hue City, and a smaller Palace Compound.
The main entrance gate.
Various buildings just inside the main entrance all of them on the main courtyard. Originally the columns would have supported covered roofs so that you could walk between the buildings without getting rained on.
Beyond the first courtyard many of the buildings were in various states of restoration, at times you could smell the heavy paint fumes.
Inside the Palace behind all the audience halls were a number of residences for the royal family. As recently as the French Indochina War the Emperor Bao Dai lived here and had tennis courts installed.
These dragon banisters flanked almost every stairway in the Palace. At one point if I recall correctly, they were painted.
The Citadel was the site of some of the most severe and brutal house to house fighting of the battle for Hue, and some of the damage is still visible on the inside face of the walls.
For a while the U.S. forces attempted to retake the Citadel without the use of heavy weapons in order to prevent it's destruction. The occupying NLF forces proved to be so tenacious however that the U.S. Air Force was called in to napalm pockets of resistance. Naturally, some other stuff got burned, like this building above, still in ruins.
I spent the better part of three hours wandering around the palace grounds, mostly by myself. I'm not sure if the lack of people was due to the heat, which was intense at midday, or because it was off-season for tourists. Either way it was nice to see it by myself without the bother of other people. Eventually I left through the North-ish gate on the opposite side from where I entered. I wanted to go to the Northernmost corner of the Citadel where the fighting had been fiercest at the beginning of the battle in 1968. As you can see from the map below, there are lots of lagoons inside the walls, these were mostly choked with weeds. I drew a line on the map tracing my route out of the Palace grounds. When I got to Le Trung Dinh and Dinh Tien Hoang I encountered a military gate and checkpoint past which I could not pass and was enthusiastically reminded that I was not allowed to take pictures of the checkpoint or anything nearby.
At this point it was so damn hot I just decided to head home. I was hungry too and strangely enough a guy on a motorbike with his wife and kid offered to take me to his house for lunch. He was really nice, was an English teacher and I was a bit curious, but I felt really awkward about accepting, so I graciously didn't. Walked for almost another hour and ended up at a tiny coffee stand by the same gate I had entered. From the opposite direction I noticed something that had escaped me before: rocket damage. Also notice that there is no sidewalk through the gate which was about wide enough for a small car and a motorbike to pass.
By the time I got back to the hotel I had been in the Citadel for over four hours and was a little bit sunburned, but totally satisfied.
The background for the forgoing cosmonauts. There are still two more pieces of this puzzle, a Soyuz 7K-OK orbital spacecraft and a dead astronaut in a Strizh Spacesuit. This was probably the hardest part of the Soyuz 11 project.