Facebook    YouTube 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
 
 
 
Home > Travels > Hue > 4
<< Previous | Next >>

Dining fit for the Nguyen Emperors

Dining fit for the Nguyen Emperors
 
 

AS THE darkness of night swept over Hue, my tour leader Danh invited us to a special cultural dinner. Having spent the afternoon exploring the once Forbidden City of the Vietnamese royalty, it only seemed fitting to spend the evening dining like a nineteenth century emperor.

The King and Queen
The King and Queen

We all accepted, not knowing what we were in for. We left the hotel taking a minibus some distance across town to what seemed to be a fairly normal Vietnamese restaurant. We were then led into a small side room with dark brown frames and white walls. I really had no idea what was going on.

We were asked to nominate a king and queen amongst us. The oldest couple in our group were the obvious choice. The waiters brought out these immaculate imperial robes for them to put on. Once they were dressed the waiters brought out an assortment of other robes for all of the rest of us to wear. Being aesthetically minded, I selected a nice purple robe though I had initially been offered a pink one. They helped me into the robe, and also put on a hat and a small scarf. We were all now dressed in Vietnamese royal drab, looking excessively coloured to the point of ridiculousness. If I had been alone, then I would have felt absolutely ridiculous, but because everyone else was dressed this way it didn’t seem so bad.

Performer
Performer
Me dressed up
Me dressed up

Some elaborately dressed musicians appeared playing on their little percussion instruments and singing. The men were dressed in blue robes similar to ours. The women were wearing orange robes and had straw hats on their heads. These hats were not the conical ones you see by people working out in the field. They had brims folded upwards.

Vietnamese performance
Vietnamese performance

The musicians led us in a procession out of the room, back through the courtyard, and then into the restaurant where we paraded our way through the wide aisle between the tables of numerous surprised diners – just regular people in regular clothes having a regular meal. How strange it would have been for them to have been innocently eating an otherwise uneventful dinner, only to have such a colourful and noisy procession like this coming through! Upon reaching the back of the restaurant we were then led upstairs to an ornate banquet room coloured in a pale soft pastel orange. The room had elaborately carved dark columns around the walls, with large pictures of Chinese characters (though strictly speaking these could have been traditional Vietnamese characters) and Asian style pictures.

The feast
The feast

The older couple in our group were seated at a royal table at the end of the room. The table was on a low platform stage. There was a huge painting behind them, an Asian abstract landscape painting with a meandering river, fields, serene hills, and the coast. A large elaborate golden silk square hung above their heads. The rest of us were seated around a very long table in the middle of the room, the end facing the royal table. Each seat place had a plate with an intricately folded napkin on top. There were chopsticks and a small soup bowl and ladle on the right hand side, and a fork and hot towel in a small bowl on the other side.

Immaculate table setting
Immaculate table setting

The musicians positioned themselves at the far end of the room setting up their instruments whilst the waiters took our drink orders. They were very nicely arranged with a beautiful painting behind them, which I recognised as the royal palace with one of the fish ponds in the foreground, looking a whole lot bluer than I had recalled it to be.

The musicians started playing and singing some traditional songs. The music and singing were much higher pitched than the music we are used to in the West. They sang with the familiar high pitched whining nasal style typical in traditional Asian music. It was very beautiful though because their high pitched whining voices blended very well with the equally high pitched scratchy accompaniment.

Beautifully presented food
Beautifully presented food

The waiters began bringing out the banquet food. I have never seen such intricacy in food before. There were carrots carved into ornate birds with the edges shaped into feathers. Every vegetable was immaculately shaped in some form of plant or animal. The kitchen staff must have worked very fast to prepare everything.

We ate dinner and celebrated in royal style. It was a great way to spend the evening.

Beautifully presented food
Beautifully presented food

I gave my camera to Danh to take some shots of me with the group. I think he fell in love with the camera and went all over the room taking pictures like a paparazzo. I just hoped he wouldn’t drop it, or use up all of the memory card or battery. Fortunately he didn’t do either, and the shots he took were very good. I suspected he had done this before. No doubt he has a strategy of finding the best camera in each group at the start of each tour, getting friendly with the owner of the camera to gain enough trust for him to borrow it, then using it whenever he could.

Course after course of immaculately presented food was brought out, but when the feast did end, we headed back downstairs through the now largely abandoned main restaurant back into the changing room where we removed our robes to return to our regular peasant tourist selves.

View all photos...

<< Previous | Next >>
 

 

 

About this Page

Date:

 

Location: Country:

 

Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

14 October 2009

 

Hue

Vietnam

 

16°27'N
107°35'E
8m ASL

 

Google Maps Link

 

 

 

Jeff

Where is Walkabout Jeff?

 

 

 

Jeff

What is happening in Walkabout Jeff's hometown?

 

 

 

Jeff

Who is Walkabout Jeff?

Any normal person's idea of going out involves going to the local pub for a drink with a few mates. Walkabout Jeff isn't normal.

 

Read more...

 

 

 

Follow Walkabout Jeff

Facebook    YouTube

 

 
 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
© 2001-2019 walkaboutjeff.com - Copyright - Disclaimer - Who is Walkabout Jeff?