Life Life

15/11/2019 - 08:28

The slowness of Hue ...

Quiet. Slow. No rush, no push. Those are some characteristics that shape the personality of Hue and its people. It is not wrong at all to say that this is an "identity" of Hue people.

Experience of living slowly by riding a cyclo - a trait of Hue life. Photo: Le Huy Hoang Hai

In the seminar on "Building and developing Thua Thien Hue Province to 2030, vision to 2045", Mr. Nguyen Van Binh, Member of the Politburo, Head of Central Economic Committee opened it up with a story about Hue people and about the interesting slowness of the ancient capital city.

“A few decades ago, I came to Hue when I was young and was very surprised. I asked why. My life was in such a spin. Even though I had to race with time, I still felt that I have been always left behind the pace of life. Yet the fellows in Hue still looked as calm as a millpond. The people here are not worried about anything at all,” shared Mr. Nguyen Van Binh.

According to Mr. Binh, “for Hue people, whenever values are mentioned, the spiritual value has always been the backbone. If this core value is missing, everything about the principles of value is just not worth discussing to them. That what makes Hue people different”.

“Hue people are careful, meticulous, hard-working, diligent, and persistent. Hue's dipping sauces are very diverse. It is very sophisticated and time-consuming to prepare such a bowl of sauce. I think that it is the essence of Hue's culinary culture”. Such comment does only come from Mr. Binh but all those who have gotten to know about Hue and set their foot on this land.

 “Like the Loc cakes (tapioca dumpling cakes) that have shrimp in it, while other people can think about inventing a machine to manufacture them, Hue people just want to make them with their hands,” Mr. Binh gave an example. Then he shared that he had studied about Hue since he was young and that learning process has taken him from surprise to sympathy, then comprehension and finally, acknowledgement. Well, first we must know well about how the cultural identity has shaped up the characteristics of Hue people, then can we figure out how the local economy should be properly developed.

Hue's slowness is not just a personality or a way of life. We can also see it through the idle rolls of the cyclo wheels. Last month, I had a sister from Hanoi to visit me. Having roamed around many places but not yet tried a cyclo, she took a ride on this vehicle in the evening.

She then took a picture to send to me and said, "Hey, I'm riding a cyclo now”. I asked, “what's interesting about it?”. “Very! It offers a slow and peaceful pace - just enough for me to enjoy the best of Hue. It far differs from the haste when you ride a Xe om (motorbike taxi) and leave gasoline smell behind or the suffocating feeling when you’re in a taxi. Above all, riding a cyclo is a worthy experience when you’re here in Hue,” she texted back, with an exciting tone.

“Vắng khách đôi khi chở gió về” (Sometimes, no guest, we’ll carry the wind) - isn’t it what Phuong "Cyclo" described the serenity and peace of life of Hue cyclo drivers? No guests? Then let’s carry the wind instead, why bothered to rush or scramble in life?

If the slow pace of the cyclo wheels is an attribute to Hue's tourism image, the cyclo drivers make up a calm, leisurely soul. These two are so well blended to render Hue’s image and personality.

Hue's slowness is also reflected in the slowness of the bicycles. In the early mornings in Hue, you will see packs of bicycles following one another, rolling around the city, heading to Thien Mu pagoda or wandering somewhere nearby the temples or tombs. Not only Hue people, tourists are also quite fond of riding this type of vehicle when visiting the Ancient Capital.

While Hue is already slow, the relaxing spins of these bicycle wheels even take the city’s slowness to another level. When the "smart bike" project comes into operation, that kind of slowness would be stimulated to develop.

Once in Hue, Professor Truong Nguyen Thanh had an interesting experience with bicycles. And he found that this model should be widely replicated. “I had a day cycling around Hue city, visiting Gia Long mausoleum and other nice places. I pedaled leisurely to enjoy my day and found that Hue landscape was very beautiful. It was a fascinating experience,” Professor Thanh shared.

The slowness of Hue sometimes comes from the rhythm of some ladies, old and young, make when they cry their wares on the streets. Sometimes, the vendor has already gone for a while, but people still hear her voice echoing around somewhere. The sounds are as profound and calm as the qualities of Hue people.

To conclude the story of the slowness of Hue people, Mr. Nguyen Van Binh said: “It may be not a good idea to tell Hue people to do business. However, they are good at doing things that require sophistication and meticulousness”.

Hue’s personality, the meticulousness, and the spinning wheels of its cyclos and bicycles will make Hue slow down. That slowdown, however, is a unique type of development. It sounds ridiculous. Because "slowness” is somewhat not suitable to couple with "development". But, if we look around, that's like a trendy lifestyle nowadays.

When people reach a certain level of hustle and bustle, they often tend to live like the old days, seeking peace and slowness as a break. And, the type of Hue’s slowness would be a choice.

By Nguyen Dac Thanh