Hue-Garden city

Hue-Garden city

In Vietnam’s former royal capital, Hue, both Kings and commoners appreciated their gardens. Dr Trinh Ba Hai reports on this city’s love of greenery

The late Vietnamese studies researcher Dr. Tran Quoc Vuong once said: “If Hanoi is an inland urban center and Saigon is a harbor, Hue is a place of gardens and poetry.”

Blessed with nearby mountains, forests, lagoons, beaches and a legendary river, Hue has long been associated with beauty and art. From the time that the Nguyen Lords chose this site as their capital, Hue was a place where people were in tune with nature. From the start of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century, Hue was the capital of a unified Vietnam, and home to the court of the Nguyen Dynasty. It was during this era that much of Hue’s most impressive architecture was built.

Phu-Mong-Vien-the-gate

In its royal heyday, Hue was a naturally green city with dozens of royal gardens, hundreds of mansions, garden houses, pagodas and temples, and huge tombs located on the upper stretches of the Hương River (Perfume River). The river is like a blue silk band that connects the court in the east and the tombs in the west. Since Phong Thuy, or geomancy, is very important in Hue, this balance between Ying and Yang is essential.

Royal gardens were built both within and beyond the royal palace. Hue’s garden-lovers appreciated fragrant flowers, strange grasses from all over Vietnam, water features, rock formations, garden houses and gates, and bonsai.
Few people are aware that Hue once had over 30 royal gardens with distinctive styles. In the Imperial City and Forbidden Purple City there were five royal gardens called Thiệu Phương, Ngự Viên, Cơ Hạ, Hậu Hổ and Trường Ninh Residence. Together, these five gardens accounted for a quarter of the palace’s total area, and covered 90,000 square meters.

Beyond the Imperial City but within the Hue Citadel lie many once-famous gardens, including Tịnh Tâm Lake, Thư Quang Garden, Thương Mậu Garden, Khánh Ninh Residence, Bao Đinh Residence, and Thường Thanh Residence. Gardens were also found on an island in the River which, according to ancient principles of geomancy, helped to protect the capital. This island was referred to as a “Right White Tiger”.

Most impressive of all are Hue’s royal tombs, which are decorated with large gardens, pools and lakes. The tombs of Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, and Tu Due cover hundreds of acres. Designed to bring vitality to the monarchs’ afterlife, these magnificent garden tombs allow “a mournful place to smile radiantly’’ and delight visitors.
Traditional garden-style mansions, pagoda gardens, temple gardens and garden-houses for commoners dot the city and its outskirts. Whether big or small, Hue’s gardens are rich in character

hue-garden-city

For generations, people in Hue have grown flowers and bonsai. The practice of planting trees in pots and shaping them arose in China, where it was known as Penjing, Penzhi or Pencai. The Japanese called this art form Bonsai. In Hue, It is known as Kiểng (a variant of Cảnh)

Hundreds of years ago, Western clergymen and businessmen reported being astonished by the popularity of bonsai in Hue. When Hue became Vietnam’s capital it attracted talented artisans from all over Vietnam, including the best garden-designers and bonsai masters.

Bonsai is judged on three key criteria: age; uniqueness; and elegance. The older a tree, the more precious it is likely to be. Uniqueness relates to the tree’s posture, as creativity is highly valued. A tree must be elegant in appearance and style. The more graceful it is, the more valuable.

Take a visit Cai Rang Floating Market

One other criterion is important: the idea behind the bonsai. A bonsai should have a theme, or a poetic inspiration. This fourth criterion seems to be especially important in Hue, where people are poetic by nature.

For this reason, Hue has become famous for its bonsai, which are very expensive. Hue bonsai artists incorporate the trees’ natural postures into their vision instead of seeking to constrain them. This respect for harmony with nature is probably linked to the strong influence of Bud¬dhism in Hue. The city’s best bonsai trees look old but not depressing, and strange without appearing lonely. They are elegant, aristocratic and poetic.

In terms of geography and climate, Hue is Vietnam’s midpoint. Flora typical to both the North and the South is found around Hue. For this reason, Hue boasts a wide variety of bonsai trees.
The city’s garden architecture, garden designs and bonsai seek to capture the essence of nature and to perfect nature. Gardens are an important element of Hue culture. Part of this city’s unique charm can be attributed to Hue people’s appreciation for flora and landscaping.

Read More

Majestic Angkor Wat

Majestic Angkor Wat

The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom remain serene, as if they were still largely untouched by human interference

City of Peace

Siem Reap Airport lies about 10km and 15 minutes by bus from the city center. The road to town is flanked by hotels and resorts that reveal Siem Reap’s place as a popular tourist site. While the city welcomes visitors from around the world, it has not lost its authentic beauty. The Cambodian government regulates construction and architecture to maintain Siem Reap’s identity in harmony with the Angkor complex. Most hotels and resorts feature Khmer architecture with red roofs. Buildings cannot be taller than 65 m so as not to surpass the tallest temple towers. This demonstrates local people’s reverence for this sacred site.

angkor_wat_siem_riep

At the heart of the Angkor compound stands the Bayon, famous for both its scale and its unforgettable architecture

The second largest city in Cambodia, Siem Reap attracts thousands of tourists each day. Nonetheless, it remains calm, with no traffic jams or noise. Security is quite good despite a vibrant atmosphere in the main streets and markets. The friendliness and simplicity of the Khmer people make visitors feel comfortable. Even at busy tourist sites, order and security are strictly guaranteed. The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom remain serene, as if they were still largely untouched by human interference.

Ancient temples

The best time to discover Angkor is during the dry season between November and April. While the summer brings treacherous tropical rains and burning sunshine, legions of visitors still stand in line waiting to discover Siem Reap’s most famous temple compounds: Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat.

Built at the behest of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, Angkor Thom was the last and longest-standing capital of the Khmer Empire. On a perfect square that measured 3 km by 3 km stand temples dedicated to deities and ancestors of the Khmer kingdom. Key materials include laterite and sandstone. Historians and archeologists still struggle to understand the construction techniques of the ancient Khmer workers. The prevailing theory holds that workers used a canal system to transport stones weighing up to 1.6 tons over 30 km from quays to the construction site.

carved_apsara

Dedicated to the Hindu God Visnu, the second floor of Angkor Wat boasts a variety of beautifully carved Apsara fairies

The compound is home to 54 towers of various sizes, each tower featuring the massive statue of a face carved on each of its four facades. Whether these smiling faces embody deities, demonstrate key Buddhist principles, or represent King Jayavarman VII is still subject to debate. The benevolent and enigmatic faces lend the Bayon a romantic and otherworldly atmosphere.

To the east of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm Temple is another much-visited site. Ta Prohm was both a Buddhist monastery and a secluded royal place built for King Jayavarman VII. King Jayavarman VIII ordered that all Buddhist images be destroyed and replaced with Hindu motifs. Therefore, the temples reveal both Buddhist and Hindu influences. Largely untouched since the late 19th century, Ta Prohm remains dotted with massive trees. Great roots wrap around the old temples, threatening to pull them apart.

Khmer architecture reached its peak with the temples of Angkor Wat. Visitors usually come here at the sunset when the sun’s rays shine directly through the main western hall. Nobody is sure why Angkor Wat faces west while all of the other temples in Angkor face to the east.

angkor_wat_cambodia

Visiting Angkor Wat in a heavy rainstorm, I found the main hall relatively deserted, all of the other visitors intent upon the masterful stone carvings. Lining an immeasurably long terrace are the longest and largest stone murals in the world. They measure 2.5 m high and run for 800m along the terrace of the temple’s first floor. Sophisticated and gentle patterns portray key scenes from epics and recount the deeds of King Suryavarman II, who ordered the construction of Angkor Wat. The second floor of the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Visnu. This floor boasts a variety of carved Apsara fairies. With their inspiring faces and postures, these fairies appear incredibly lifelike. Representing Heaven, the third floor lies 65 m above the ground and is reached by a steep, narrow staircase. Few can enter this Heaven. Those who succeed are rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of Siem Reap and the Angkor compound.

Here are 7 world heritage sites

It was a dream-come-true when I set foot in this land of ancient temples and marveled at the architectural masterpieces of Khmer civilization. Touching stone walls that had stood for millennia, I felt total peace of mind amidst these sacred temple towers.

Read More

7 newly recognized world’s heritages by UNESCO

7 newly recognized world’s heritages by UNESCO

UNESCOS stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This organization verified and recognized a lot of the cultural and natural sites based on the certain criteria. Until now, UNESCO treasures 1.052 heritages showing the remarkable values on culture and nature. Recently, UNESCO has published the list of 21 names to supplement the list of the world heritage sites in the annual meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey. In which, there are 7 outstanding heritages in terms of many values

venice_italy_unesco

Venice is one of the famous world heritage recognized by UNESCO. Photo: Hernán Piñera

Let’s discover 7 impressive construction works of the world which UNESCO newly recognized as the world heritage. Here are 7 spotlight names in the list of 21 newly recognized world heritages by UNESCO:

Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, China

In the period of the 5th century B.D to the 2nd century A.D, Louye people in the southwest of China described their daily life and spiritual activities on the walls of Hoa Son Mountain, near the Nam Ninh City, Guangzhou Province. Tourists can see the direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong to Nam Ninh City to visit this unique Rock Art Cultural Landscape.

To sum up, to the above mentioned 7 world heritage site recognized by UNESCO, they are so breath taking, splendid and stunning. Each destination has its own typical features to capture the attraction of tourists. Hope that we will have chance to visit these places one day!

The Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain

Regarded as the Stonehenge works of Spain, The Antequera Dolmens Site strongly impresses with the big size stones dating back to the Neolithic period. It is one of the extremely important construction works to the European archeologists. Tourists can visit this site after 45 minute drive from the Malaga City or 2 hour drive of passenger car from Seville and Gibraltar.
It can be said that the Dolmens site is the “outstanding example of megalithic architecture”.

antequera_dolmens_site_spain

A view of the Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, Canada

For those who love sightseeing and discovering the nature maybe know this place for many years. Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is located in the edge of southeast of Newfoundland Island, which is the home to a total of 180 species of birds and 40 species of mammals recorded. There are also many kinds of fossils dating back of 500 million years ago.

Cruise ship dock of Antigua navy, Antigua and Barbuda Islands

This is the dock for repairing and building the ships of British Navy during the time European countries was competing to take over the control of the east of Caribbean. Therefore, this architecture works is the same as other works under George Kings in the UK (1714 – 1830). You can travel to this site from Jumby Bay which is the best hotel on Antigua and Barbuda Islands after 30 minute departure by ship

cruise_ship_of_antigua_navy

Romantic scene of Cruise ship dock of Antigua navy, Antigua and Barbuda Islands

Gorham’s Cave Complex, the UK

Located on Gibraltar Island of the United Kingdoms (the UK), Gorham’s Cave Complex is currently one of the most attractive sites in the world. This place has stored the proofs about the existence of Neanderthals culture dating back tens of thousands of years. The archeologists and paleontologists are still doing research on the engravings on the wall or animal fossils in the caves. Tourists can take a visit around this area according to the tour or in individual by boat.

gorham_cave_complex_uk

A corner of Gorham’s Cave Complex in the UK

Pampulha Complex, Brazil

The tourists whom visit Brazil to watch Olympics 2016 can spend time visiting the famous contemporary artistic works such as Pampulha Complex of the architect Oscar Niemeyer in Belo Horizonte City. The complex consists of casino, churches and the government buildings surrounded by the man-made lake with the lines of palm trees

The architecture work of Le Corbusier

le_corbusier

The chapel of Notre Dame de Hault of Le Corbusier

The architect Le Corbusier is the father of Innovative doctrine when he creates the contemporary architecture works in many locations around the world, from Buenos Aires City to Tokyo. One of the most unique examples of architecture is the chapel of Notre Dame de Hault. This church has the asymmetrical design with the concrete dome.

Read More