by Kim Megson
|[pic] | |Steeped in history: Visitors enjoy a trip to Hue's ancient citadel. The city offers a perfect blend of| |history, culture, food and relaxation. — VNA/VNS Photo |
When eager travellers arrive in Viet Nam they usually have a familiar list of places that they are determined to see – HCM City, Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, maybe Ninh Binh.
One name that usually doesn't crop up immediately is Hue, the former imperial capital, which despite its rich tradition and heritage has mostly been used by tourists as a mere stopping point midway through their journey.
Recently, however, things have started to change and Hue is making a name for itself as a tourist destination in its own right.
Hue is the place I called home for 16 months, and I loved living in this city of contrasts; a place where tradition, education and culture come before business and development.
In Hue, coffee shops and restaurants are surrounded by crumbling citadel walls that have stood firm through many conflicts – a visual reminder of the city's inimitable history and culture.
Long-term residents value Hue for its peaceful and quiet way of life, which can be quite hard to come by in a country as fast moving and often chaotic as Viet Nam.
While they may be cynical from time to time about the snail-pace of life or the perils of the rainy season (more on that later), it is not uncommon when visiting other places for them to be heard saying "I could really do with a proper Hue coffee now" or "but food is much cheaper than this in Hue!"
Often it is the little things that are savoured the most. There is nothing quite comparable to the simple pleasures of drinking a cold Huda (Viet Nam's finest beer) on the banks of the Perfume River, drinking ca phe sua (Viet Nam's finest...