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25/11/2020 - 19:35

The view of Nha Do Gate in the rain

Due to the first cold air approaching, Hue starts to witness constant drizzle along with the biting cold of early winter. White storks no longer flap their wings out there above the fields submerged under flood water, but wandering in search for food on the patches of grass in the Citadel.

The rainy season of Hue seems to arrive. What is more interesting than sitting in a coffee shop, leisurely welcoming the cold of early winter, and watching the rain dropping on Nha Do Gate.

Nha Do Gate, one of the four Entrance Gates to Hue Citadel, is now situated at the head of Nguyen Trai street, which intersects with Ong Ich Khiem street. The three remaining gates include Thuong Tu (Southeast Gate), Ngan Gate (The Nhon Gate), and Quang Duc (Collapsed Gate).

According to historical documents, Nha Do Gate (South Gate), situated in the south of Hue Citadel, had its arch built in 1809 under the reign of Gia Long Emperor and its watchtower constructed 20 years later under the reign of Minh Mang Emperor.

In the old days, outside the gate was the storehouse for objects and weapons, so the name Nha Do i.e., Storehouse, was given to this gate until now. In 1953, the arch and the watchtower of Nha Do Gate collapsed as a consequence of a historic flood, both of which were later repaired and restored.

Nha Do Gate

Like the other 12 Entrance Gates to the Citadel, Nha Do Gate was built of bricks, with the arch and the watchtower atop. From the watchtower where soldiers used to guard lies a very broad view.

Today, the view from here reveals the protecting trench system with the purple color of hyacinth, or the pink and white colors of lotus together with its scent during the lotus season.

There are many constructions in Hue Citadel, and the architecture of the ancient capital brings pride to Hue people as well as attracts many tourists coming to this city. But in the rainy season of Hue, the experience will be incomplete without taking an opportunity to sip a cup of coffee while watching the gate in the rain, for only at that moment can the serenity of Hue, the “sad-but-not-sad” atmosphere of Hue, and the characteristics of Hue people be fully exposed.

I usually sit in a yellow coffee shop decorated in French style, which faces the gate at the head of Nguyen Trai street, sipping a cup of coffee while contemplating Nha Do Gate. It seems that very few coffee shops are lucky enough to be situated near the gate in order to own such a nice view.

Rain drops appear to interweave and then descend on the gate and the brick wall covered with moss. The sky looks as if it was being pulled down, and it seems as though ascending the gate and standing atop of the watchtower could enable us to reach the clouds.

Nha Do Gate is an “exit”, for it is a one-way street from the Citadel to the outside. Sometimes when having many concerns, I have a habit of “relaxing” by sitting on the 2nd floor of a coffee shop, counting the volume of traffic passing through the gate.   

There are people in a hurry and those without a rush passing through the gate to the outside. On rainy days, watching the figures in colorful raincoats entering the gate and disappearing afterwards is fun.

The gate also gives home and shelter to various kinds of bird, especially the sparrow. The scene of flocks of bird flying and singing gurglingly looks like children having fun despite the constant depressing rains of Hue.

If you have a chance to visit Hue in winter, try sitting here and ordering a cup of hot coffee while casting your eyes outside the windows towards the gate to realize the unique beauty of Entrance Gates to Hue Citadel.

Whether the sorrowful mossy wall panels in the rain or the cheerful foliage of the sumac trees in the breeze lie in front of you. I am certain that you will discover that the atmosphere of Hue city in wintertime is not as sad as people usually say. 

Story and photos: Nam Giao

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