Royal Tomb of Emperor Khải Định
Royal Tomb of Emperor Khải Định. Photo by Anvi Hoang

What springs to mind when I think about Huế?

Is it the old capital where multiple
generations of my great grandfathers
served the courts of many emperors
throughout the nineteenth century?

Is it the Hương river with its scented name
its soft flow and beautiful contour
a muse for countless literateurs?

How many men have had crushes
on Huế girls strolling along
Tràng Tiền bridge
appealing in their violet áo dài
the traditional dress showcasing
the charm, the sweetness,
the sensuality, the femininity
of the wearers?

Is it the spicy taste of bún bò Huế
a typical dish from Huế?
I can still feel its sweet taste on my tongue
my favorite childhood dish
which my mom used to make
on my birthdays
back home decades ago

In any case

It carries the pride
the pleasure
the sour
the spiciness

the nourishing memories
of our past
our ancestors
our cultural heritages
our royal cuisine


Tràng Tiền bridge spanning the Hương river
Tràng Tiền bridge spanning the Hương river. Photo by Anvi Hoang