A weekend trip to Hung Yen

Talking about Hung Yen province, 60km from Hanoi, many Vietnamese people think of Hien street, which is widely known with a famous saying “One should first visit Thang Long and then Hien street.”

The name “Nhan Long” (cage-longan) comes from the farming practice of covering the fruit with small bamboo-woven baskets to protect them from the birds.

After more than 1 hour driving from Hanoi we arrived at Hien street along which both Asian and European-style houses have coexisted for generations in harmony with longan trees. Sitting in the car, we all felt very excited and decided to get out of the car to pick some fruit hanging just overhead and within reach.

The longan trees are grown everywhere by local residents, in school yards, in public areas and along the small dirt road leading to our college campus. Now at the peak season, farmers are busy sorting out the best longan fruit for sale. The remaining, often crack-skinned, will be processed into “long nhan” (dragon eyes) to be used as medicine. The friendly host brought us some bunches of longan which taste very sweet like “duong phen” (rock sugar). The fruit of this type can be sold at a price much higher than the normal one.

Later on, we were shown around a lush longan garden where the trees are low but heavy with fruit. We really wished to pick one from each tree and see if there is any difference in quality. Yet, it is impossible to eat a lot from three hundred trees there. Just let it take our fancy!

This year, a huge volume of longan fruit has been brought to Hanoi, not only from Hung Yen, but also from other provinces such as Thai Nguyen, Thai Binh and Ha Nam, as well as from the neighbouring countries of Thailand and China.

But there is no place like Hung Yen where you can visit during the weekend to buy and taste the best longan fruit right in the garden.

                                                                                                                                      Minh Ly

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