The life we observed on the Perfume River belied the enormous socio-economic changes we had seen so far in the cities of modern Vietnam and even in the villages we had passed on our way to Halong Bay. The slender boats with so little freeboard when loaded with people and their belongings seemed ancient in design and the arduous life of fishermen was still much in evidence. The people lived and made their living on these boats. A few, perhaps more adventurous, perhaps more imaginative, folks had decided to dedicate their boats to tourism, as was the case with the boat which took us up the river. Our “captain” piloted the boat and helped us in and out of it while his wife was responsible for selling some of her handicrafts and other tourist items they had to offer, such as postcards, guidebooks covering the tombs we saw, and the history of life on the Perfume River. We were never able to experience the reason why the river is called “perfume;” but there were also no really unpleasant odors there either.
The continuing monsoon weather pursued us to Hue as well and we could see the waters rising in the river under the pressure of the rain. When we disembarked at a couple of the tomb complexes, the water had risen to the point that some of the steps rising to the grounds were already submerged. And still the rains came.
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