Life Life

12/04/2022 - 13:53

“I’ll go to Hue this summer”

My friend “breaks her promise” she made in a way that she came sooner than planned, explaining that she missed Hue dearly.

Quynh and Hoai have had many beautiful photo collections

“Eating throughout Hue”

I picked her at the airport and drove her to the hotel. No sooner had she checked in and left her luggage in the room than she quickly got into the car and asked me to go straight to Hen islet. I had no chance to say no although I already had some com hen (rice with mussels) and coffee for breakfast.

When we were at Hoa Dong, a small restaurant at the end of Ung Binh Street, I couldn’t resist a bowl of com hen that my friend described as the “holy dish” on speaking of Hue.

Quynh, from Gia Lai, was my university student fellow. She spent about 10 years in Hue, including time for undergraduate and graduate studies, plus working time for a local agency. She often said that she had little chance to eat Hue dishes after she left.

Tasty rabbitfish pancakes

Returning to Hue after 14 years, her first comment was that Hue has been so beautiful and clean, and the streets are wider. Hue has changed remarkably, but the specialties remain all their tastes.

I nodded my head and jokingly added that price has been increased too. It cost 1,000 VND for a bowl of com hen when we were students. It is now ten times as much. Yet my friend said it was reasonable compared to the cost in Bien Hoa, where she lives now, not to mention that it is rare to find a place that serves the right taste. And thus, she wanted to eat “everything throughout Hue” before going back home.

To make out “eating everything throughout Hue,” she sent me via zalo a long list of the dishes so that I could get prepared. At a first glance, I found out that it was all that I wanted to eat too.

After com hen, we went to a nearby café for some yogurt to be digestive and made plans for lunch, dinner and supper. We could only check a third of the list although we spent a day of eating, from com hen, banh canh ca loc (udon with snakehead fish), bun mam nem (vermicelli with fermented fish sauce), sweet soup and different kinds of cakes. We then planned for the next day.

Visiting all new destinations

We had a new companion the next day. She was Quynh’s postgraduate fellow. Hoai got married with a man from Quang Binh, so she often stops by Hue while going to her husband’s hometown. This visit to Hue is also to keep a promise with Quynh. I had my children with me, so we had 5 altogether.

We arrived at Chuon market at 7 to enjoy the rabbitfish pancakes. It should have been white-spotted rabbitfish (cetacean), but this is not the season of white-spotted rabbitfish. The fresh rabbitfish still made the crunchy pancakes delicious when it was served with fish sauce and green chili.

Com hen – the “holy dish” in Quynh’s words – that it’s a regret if missed

It was still early after breakfast, we all went around the market and then headed to the causeway leading to the floating huts in Chuon lagoon for a “check-in” on social media. After a series of photos taken, my friend urged us to go to Khai Dinh Tomb. We also had album of photos at incense village in Thuy Xuan on the way there.

We had lunch at Chan restaurant on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. It offers a wide range of Hue dishes, including braised goby fish, boiled pork served with fermented shrimps, fermented bean sprouts and soup of mussel and bamboo shoot. In the evening, we visited Hoang Thi farm, about ten kilometers from the city center. We have been to different check-in destinations in Hue in this way.

They were not all the destinations as we only visited common places such as cafés and agritourism destinations. There are luxury hotels with gorgeous views, such as the one in the tallest building in Hue, have not been visited. But we left these as rendezvous for the coming visits.

Despite limited time in Hue, my friend managed to revisit Truong Tien bridge, the Huong River and the parks along its banks, where many of our memories were made. Quynh’s photo album the on social media, which was about the green plants along the riverbanks, about the dishes familiar to students like salted coffee, Truong Tien baguette, grilled corn and sweet potatoes, etc., has drawn considerable attention from friends, especially our student fellows.

My friend said it was the most memorable return to her memories of student life although she used to hesitate for fear of the covid-19.

The pandemic has affected many things, including our rendezvous for the past two years. Fortunately, the new normal has brought everything back to the way it is.

For this, many families and friends have seized the chance to go on holiday. This makes the number of arrivals to Hue, as well as to many cities nationwide, increase to the same number at the time before the pandemic.

Following this trend, Hue has provided many new tourism products. Hue is still a destination on your travel bucket list even if it only offers you with its usual products and the monuments and unique landmarks.

Try it out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed when you go to Hue this summer.

Story and photos: Hong Tam

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