“You will be surprised! It is sooooo unique!” a friend talked to me. I just smiled and kept walking.
That was my first time here, I didn’t know what would make me surprised like what my friend said but I thought ‘Okay, just a grave of an emperor, nothing special!’

Overview of Tu Duc Tomb from above. Source: Internet

“Hannah! Quickly!”
“Come now!” I yelled.

“Don’t forget to take-note, babe.” The inspector reminded me as if he was my father.
“Thanks. You look like my father.” I laughed and ran to my friends.
“Hey, so is it good or bad?” He yelled and laughed too.

Although I had heard and read a variety of comments about TU DUC emperor and his tomb, I have never been here before. So I made up my mind to be alone, while my friends were dividing the team into 3 smaller groups after passing the big gate.

Luu Khiem Lake. Source: Internet.

I read some information about him in my notebook: “Tu Duc Emperor’s original name was Nguyen Phuoc Hoang Nham, he was born in 1829 and died in 1883. He was sometimes referred to as the “last independent Emperor of Vietnam”. Being certainly not the last Vietnamese monarch, he was only the fourth of the thirteen Nguyen dynasty emperors but it was during his reign that French forces established their first colonial foothold in Vietnam. Tu Duc emperor was also famous as a romantic person. Most of his free time was spent to draw pictures and create poems. Sadly, however, the more fame he had, the more notoriety was going along with his life due to three faults that had been done by him during his reign. Hmm, there must have been something that made his reputation bad, hasn’t it?

While many people were looking at the big map put in the front of the first construction, I decided to see my own map. It was undeniable that actually, it was so unique- the tomb.

All tombs in Hue were built in symmetric architecture with rectangle, square or circle shape and special patterns except Tu Duc Tomb. It didn’t follow any rules as mentioned. He divided his tomb into 2 parts: Tam( all works in monarchic tomb except the grave) and Lang( the grave). Although nobody knows it was his intentional or just a flow, it made Tu Duc tomb unique among the others.

Closing the book, I tried to forget all the existed comments about him or his tomb in books and documents on the internet and walked slowly. I wanted to discover it by my own way, not by others’ thoughts. They said that “when we visit the tombs, we can feel the confidence and the personalities of the Emperors: “Khai Dinh displayed the power and fortune in his tomb, and Minh Mang built his tomb which was considered to be the evidence of a strong empire, meanwhile, Tu Duc made his tomb become a real house.”
They might be true, but ‘forget it, enjoy my way!’
However, I was surprised when I stood in the front of a lake in Tu Duc Tomb. Immediately, I opened my notebook and read. “ There were two principal gates, but now they just allowed tourists enter by one gate- Vu Khiem Mon. From there, a tiled alley divides the area into two sections: on the left was shrines built on the slope of a hill; on the right, at a lower level, was the Luu Khiem Lake. There were two pavilions based on the single pillars reinforced under the water: Xung Khiem Ta and Du Khiem Ta.
“It is the Luu Khiem lake, oh my god! It’s so beautiful.” I yelled. “… but… also so…” so strange.

I should not have felt this way!

What was my feeling at that time? Being lonely, sad or anxious?

The answer might have been all of them… Yep, I should not have those feelings.
Generally, the great strength, monarchic wealthy and regal power should be seen in the imperial tombs, but not loneliness, sadness or compunction like my feelings at that moment. What happened to his life?

Seeing Xung Khiem Ta pavilion, I suddenly imagined a scene: a solitary man stood in the pavilion. He enjoyed the beauty of the moon and the dark in the loneliness. It seemed that although there were many people around him, no one could understand his heart, so he let the cold winds blow his confidence away in an unlimited space.

He was an emperor of a country! What happened?

Some people said that a tomb was like a house of an emperor and it would reflect the characters of the owner. If it was true, so was Tu Duc emperor not only a romantic person but also a sad and lonely one?

Xung Khiem Ta and Du Khiem Ta. Source: Internet.

Tu Duc emperor, what was behind your life?
Were the secrets of your life truly buried away by time?

by Hannah