Hue’s rustic fair retains ancient fragrance

The “Old scent old village” fair in Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital, highlights the rustic beauty and hospitality of its Phuoc Tich ancient village.

Planned for every other weekend, the fair made its debut on June 13 and the second was launched last Saturday in Phuoc Tich Village, Phong Dien District in the central town of Hue. Phuoc Tich was Vietnam’s second ancient village recognized as a "national relic", after Hanoi’s Duong Lam Village in Son Tay District.

Visitors to Phuoc Tich Village can easily follow the signs showing the ancient-house site (Nha Ruong Co) and food-fair (Khu Am Thuc), one within walking distance of the other. Chinese influenced, ancient pillar-house (nha ruong) architecture originated in the 17th century and is represented by 27 old homes and 10 family-reverent structures across the village. The food fair, in turn, features the traditional culture and unique specialities of rural district Phong Dien.

From 5 a.m., locals carry their produce to the fair, which is organized by Phuoc Tich Ancient Village management board, passing via the main village route.

Wearing green, villagers resemble the lush surrounding fields from which they emerge around 2-3 a.m. to prepare for the day’s trade.

Tourists can enjoy many traditional specialities like water fern cakes, tapioca-starch savoury cakes, Hue beef noodles, tapioca-flour noodle soups, etc.

Mung-bean cakes, called "spouse cakes" in Vietnam for their popularity at weddings, have a unique shape and taste. Made with coconut fibres and covered with coconut leaves, the cake has a noticeable coconut fragrance, which matches elegantly with the fresh sweetness of mung-beans.

Wrapped in banana and fig leaves, local specialities, while awakening many childhood memories, manage to also stay environmental-friendly.

Popular organic gifts include bananas, jackfruits, and grapefruits, sold by brimmingly cheerful vendors.

The new market has added to the charm of Hue Town, a top tourist destination in central Vietnam with many UNESCO-recognized heritage sites.

Various fruits, vegetables, bamboo sprouts, etc. are also sold here.

Different beans are stored into traditional sedge baskets, often sold alongside traditional crafts.

"Mo cau", the peeled outer layer of areca-tree trunks, is mainly dried to make traditional Vietnamese hand fans.

The fair includes an array of Phuoc Tich pottery and My Xuyen wood carving.

The market highlights the rustic friendliness of a traditional village in central Vietnam. It opens every two weeks, on Saturday or Sunday, from 6 a.m.