National Geographic : 1952 Sep
avenging artillery and the roar of French dive bomb ers. Several days later when we returned, reconstruc tion was in full swing. Bricklayers worked fever ishly; bamboo frames for houses were going up, and new thatching was in place. Hue itself seemed like a beleaguered city. Spe cial military passes and a sizable armed escort were necessary to go beyond its limits. The rumble of mortar fire was frequently heard, especially at night. We found the city bus tling, overcrowded. Traf fic raised clouds of dust in its palm-fringed streets and surged back and forth across the temporary steel bridge that spans the River of Perfumes, or Huong Giang (pages 290, 306-7). Heart of old Hue, and of Annam, was the spa cious double-walled Im perial City. Now refugee settlements crowd between the walls, and Viet Namese troops train within the inner citadel. The imperial palace and several other royal build ings have been destroyed by Viet Minh. In Khai Dinh Museum we met His Excellency, Vo Chuan, Director of Cultural Services. When Boy and Buffalo-a Fixture in Indochina's Landscape Viet-Namese prize the sluggish water buffalo as a faithful, powerful worker. In many instances he represents most of a farmer's wealth. Travelers see him working in rice fields, wallowing in mud. or feeding quietly while urchins climb all over him. Beast and herdsboy often become firm friends. we mentioned the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, he beamed. Reach ing into a desk drawer, he brought out the August, 1931, issue. "I remember your Mr. Robert Moore, who wrote this article about his travels on the old Mandarin Road," he said. "He took my pic ture in ceremonial court costume. Here it is.* "Not long ago," he continued, "French troops recovered the ancient seal and sword of Annam, taken by the Viet Minh. We con sider that a good omen." Alone I strolled along the River of Per fumes-scentless then, for it was not blossom time. Fishermen push-rowed junks, while others ashore hung nets to dry or spun fish lines. Men cut firewood into lengths, and women, their trousers hiked high, pounded and scrubbed laundry. Later, with a truck and several jeeps full of soldiers, we drove to the royal tombs, which dot a green valley outside Hue. Emperors of Annam spent much time overseeing con struction of their elaborate resting places. We found the tombs faultlessly cared for, ready for visitors who rarely come in these troubled times. Hanoi Close to the War With a cargo of dried fish and fish-essence sauce, we flew in a snub-nosed Bristol to Hanoi, chief city of the fertile Red (Rouge) River Delta and capital of Indochina until recently. Street names in the teeming native-Chinese section are a guide to the shopper. Each bears the name of the product traditionally * See "Along the Old Mandarin Road of Indo China," by W. Robert Moore, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, August, 1931.