The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc) – Hue, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc), April 2018. If you’re in Hue and open to checking out something a bit different from the typical tourist trail, why not take a walk down to this handsome French era secondary school, one of the most esteemed educational establishments in Vietnam.

2. The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc), April 2018. You can stroll right in through the main gate, or at least I did, the security guard giving me nothing more than an extended yawn from his little booth. The school dates back to the 1890s and in some ways it looks like little has changed since those days: the whole place is a little rickety, crumby and peeling, the buildings painted an arresting crimson red.

3. The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc), April 2018. The school has quite the wall of fame when it comes to former pupils. A number of Vietnam’s most celebrated scholars and politicians hit the books here, including General Vo Nguyen Giap (one of the greatest military strategists of the 20thcentury!) as well as former Prime Minister Minh Pham Van Dong. Even Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s founding father passed through with a year’s study in 1908. Resting in the stand overlooking the school’s dusty sports field, I sat watching some students playing football and wondered if any of the players before me were also destined for greatness.  

4. The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc), April 2018. I was crossing a run down playground with a volleyball net when a little boy attached himself to me, babbling away in Vietnamese. Every now and then he’d throw in some random English, “hello”,“very good”, “ok, ok, ok”, which, although amusing and charming, didn’t do anything to enlighten his excitable narrative.

5. The National School (Truong Quoc Hoc), April 2018. A more revealing conversation came when I met Keung, a sober, softly spoken local boy studying French in his final year. Despite his pervading dourness, Keung told me that he loved coming to the school and that he was “very lucky”, having received some form of special sponsorship. I asked him what he wanted to do in the future and after an agonizing pause that I feared would never end he simply said “Paris”.

Hue’s National School can be accessed after the bell signals the end of the school day at 17:00. It’s located on Le Hoi Street, about a one-kilometer walk from the city centre along the riverfront.

Check out more 5s from the Vietnamese city of Hue.

Like these? I’ve written many more articles from all around Vietnam.

 

My 5: The Perfume River – Hue, Vietnam.

2 Comments

1. The Perfume River, 2018. Hue’s Perfume River is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde affair. In the day the waters are largely dead, far from pretty (a kind of soupy grey-brown) and not a trace of perfume wafting in the air. Apparently that can only be experienced in late autumn when the riverbank flowers lose their blossoms, decomposing directly into the river.

Continue Reading »

My 5: The Royal Gardens – The Imperial City – Hue, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. The Royal Gardens (Imperial City, Hue), April 2018. Hue’s majestic Imperial City is a fascinating window into the rich history of Vietnam’s Nguyen Emperors. Even with only a fraction of its original glory intact, you’ll still be treated to sweeping courtyards, traditional temples, crumbling stone gates, painted halls and towering pagodas. And then you’ve got The Royal Gardens, a small but exquisitely manicured corner where visitors flock to carpet bomb their friends with cheesy, Asian trademark selfies. Expect peace sign fingers, plenty of duck face and hand-cupped flower symbols nestling under the chin.

Continue Reading »

My 5: Bonsai Exhibition Garden – The Imperial City – Hue, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. Bonsai Exhibition Garden (The Imperial City, Hue), April 2018. I’d more or less finished exploring the main grounds of Hue’s Imperial City when I stumbled upon this gorgeous Bonsai garden, accessed via the inner courtyard road. 

Continue Reading »

My 5: The Imperial City – Hue, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. The Imperial City, April 2018. I’m not much of a history buff; all those dates, names and battles tend to go in one ear and right out the other. I tend to avoid guided tours too, I just can’t seem to focus on what’s being said, invariably a flurry of facts and figures, most of which will be lost to me by the time I’ve settled down for dinner. Instead, I like to wander and explore with my own thoughts, try to breathe in the essence of the place. I’ve always loved the sense of reflective calm these historical palaces bring and knew I was going to like Hue’s Imperial City from the moment I approached Ngo Mon Gate, the palace’s main entrance.

Continue Reading »

My 5: Phong Nha Cave, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. Phong Nha Cave, April 2018. We were rattling through Phong Nha-KBàng National Park (try saying that with a mouthful of marshmallows) in the minibus when I found myself speculating on whether Phong Nha Cave might turn out to be something of an anticlimax. Our intimate little tour group had just finished exploring the wondrous Paradise Cave, which had been so damn impressive I couldn’t imagine this next cave coming anywhere close. Pulling up outside a boat station alongside a beautiful deep-green, hill-framed river, we all jumped out and followed our guide Nick to a waiting vessel.    Continue Reading »

My 5: Paradise Cave, Vietnam.

Leave a comment

1. Paradise Cave, April 2018. Arguably the highlight of central Vietnam, Paradise Cave is an essential stop on any itinerary around the country! After all, this is the longest dry cave in Asia at a staggering thirty-one kilometers. The cave’s public access section covers just one of those kilometers, but fear not… it’s still a jaw–dropping experience. Seen one cave seen em’ all? No!!!

Continue Reading »