Sunday, July 26, 2009

No one wants to go down to Hue in the summer, this time the boss chose me

The royal city of Hue has its hellish aspects, like the paralyzing July heat. Can't say we weren't warned. Mr. Phung dutifully led us around the Citadel where the kings of the Nguyen Dynasty resided, each one with his 200 wives, 300 concubines, and stable of eunuchs to keep the ladies in line. It's an extraordinary place -- moats, ornate lacquered buildings, lily ponds -- but all I could think about was getting a bottle of Aquafina and sitting down. 

Yesterday, my poor father was feeling punk. I urged him to go ahead and use his antibiotics, but did he listen? A few Huda beers in the evening seemed to improve everything immeasurably, so maybe I was wrong.

This was the absurd appetizer from two nights ago, for which I blame his malaise:

The carved carrot was meant to be the head of a peacock; a hollowed-out pineapple, the body; pineapple leaves, the tail. Into the pineapple were stuck spring rolls on skewers. I had an icky feeling about this bird, and we were the only people in the restaurant. 

The limp bouquet contains fruits made from pounded green bean paste, the Vietnamese version of marzipan. Presentation didn't quite come off, but it was a cute idea.

Must try to get one more hour of sleep before our last full (and FULL) day in Vietnam. Today, we're packing in a long tour of the DMZ and then flying back to Saigon tonight. Tomorrow night, we leave.


  1. ack. Just looking at that bird makes me queasy..

    Hope your dad feels better soon!

  2. Agreed. That bird looks to be of ill intent. And though marzipan fruits are quaint, delicious they are not.

  3. thanks to the wonders of modern life isabel and i are sitting side by side right now in wareham massachusetts reading your blog!
    what a wonderful trip. i love reading about it. armchair travel is best for me. i remember being entranced with A Bright Shining Lie...must be amazing to read it in vietnam.
    the children are amazing. so enthusiastic, good humored and living. what a treat to have them here. i think dad is lonely...

  4. Yuccchh is right. Were you ever able to resort to some sort of packaged food from like a 7-Eleven, when the served food was unappetizing?