Hue is considered as the most colorful city in Vietnam. It is not because of blue river of Huong and ancient red tiles on the roof of Tu Duc tomb or green path by trees along famous National High School of Hue. Hue has its own color – the purple city.
The purple color has been named to Hue for long. It is long enough to be forgotten. If you try to ask Hue people about history of its name, you may get your disappointment but if you want to describe the purple color, just simply say: Hue purple! I am sure everyone in Vietnam knows exactly what you mean!
Purple is related to Forbidden City (Citadel) in Hue. Following the ancient Vietnamese language, ‘forbidden’ means Purple. So, the older generation also call citadel of Hue as Purple City. Vietnamese think Purple stands for sadness, for something is going to the end like the sun going to be set. If you stand in front of Thien Mu pagoda in late afternoon when the sun slowly gets disappeared to Ngu Mountain you will understand why Hue people stated that sadness. The whole area covered by purple color. The scene makes people recall the ending time in 1945 of the feudalism dynasty that had ruined Vietnam for hundred of years.
I visited Hue when I just finished my high school. It was such a quick trip for me. There was an image of a female tourist guide on purple long dress with her conical hat that really urged me to come back. I still dreamed of walking on Truong Tien Bridge to view down to Con Hen and endless Huong River. I have not done it yet because of being too busy even I have come back to this land many times and actually I want to see Hue as a wanderer rather than a busy tour guide with work. I just wanted to keep Hue for my own.
Hue is a ‘difficult’ place for tourist guide job like I did. History is not a hard part, city is also very small, but I found it so hard to explain to my customers about the soul of this land, the place that all Vietnamese love to travel to, even once! Sometimes I find language is not enough, it is all about the feelings and Hue is like a typical Vietnamese girl, she is elegant, beautiful, charming but sometimes she is so cold and discreet to confuse so many boys around.
I often say to people who going to Hue: if you find a place for entertain, Hue is not a place! If you are a ‘city boy’, Hue may not be suitable for you. Hue is for calm and experienced people. City brings the insight of past, the recall of time and layback of busy life. Most of travelers find Hue boring, it’s sad. Hue needs a better treatment, and customers have a right to know Hue better, understand Hue in the way it is.
I hope you have a good time in Hue, don’t forget to visit Dong Ba market, walk on Truong Tien Bridge, view the sunset from Thien Mu pagoda or dine on dragon boat along Huong River. I hope you will have chance to see local girls while school out, taking a photo of citadel from flag pole or laze in lazy coffee shop surrounded by smiling faces. I do hope you will see and feel Hue like the way I do, and confidently phase the word in Vietnamese: Tím Huế!