Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house (Vietnamese: nhà cổ Huỳnh Thùy Lê, nhà cổ means ancient house) is one of the most unique architectural works in the Mekong Delta. It was also famous for a love affair between its owner Mr. Le and Marguerite Duras, a French writer, in the early years of the twentieth century. Currently, this ancient house is a popular tourist destination in Dong Thap province, attracting a large number of tourists coming to visit.

General information about Huynh Thuy Le ancient house

The house was built in 1895 by Mr. Huynh Cam Thuan (father of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le), a famous Chinese merchant in the area, at a busy trading hub on the Sa Dec riverfront. When Mr. Thuan passed away, Mr. Huynh Thuy Le inherited the house and renovated it in 1917, created the harmonious combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and French countries.

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

A look from outside the house

After Le’s death in 1972, his wife and children settled overseas, leaving the house unused. It became a police headquarters until 2007 when it was repurposed as a tourist destination in Mekong Delta. In 2008, Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House was recognized as a Provincial Historical Site and in 2009 it was recognized as a National Historical Site.

portrait of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le

portrait of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le

Currently, this house is under the management of Dong Thap Tourism Joint Stock Company. So if you want to have lunch or dinner right at the ancient house, the ticket price will be 100,000 VND/person. Besides, if you want to stay overnight at the old house, the room price ranges from 550,000 VND – 1,000,000 VND/night (including a lunch and a breakfast).

What’s unique about Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house?

The ancient house has three chambers, in the typical architecture in the Southwest region. On the outside, it looks like a French-architecture villa. However, the inner bears an architectural style with bold Chinese colors. The roof is covered with yin and yang tiles, the two sides of the gable are curved in the shape of a boat in the style of temples in the North region.

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

The arches have a 17th-century Roman design with engraved patterns of flowers, plants, and birds.

The area of ​​the house is not a large but luxurious interior design. It is divided into 3 compartments, the outer part was serving as a worship and reception area while the remaining areas were used as bedrooms, a garage, a kitchen, and a garden with a total of 2,000 square-meter.

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

A bed room of Mr.Huynh

However, due to urbanization, the current area has been reduced to 258 square meters reserving only the main building. All the bricks for the house are imported from France while the precious wood was imported from Cambodia. The house owners honored Guan Yu, a military general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

Worshiping area, in the middle is Lord Guan

Mr.Le’s father invited artists in Fujian, China, to come here to paint a Guan Yu portrait in gold color, which is placed at the center of the house. This painting was considered one of the best paintings in the Mekong Delta region.

Furthermore, all wooden furniture like wardrobes, beds, and altars were delicately carved representing the nobility of the homeowner.

Huynh Thuy Le Ancient house

The motifs are delicately carved

And until now, most of the house’s interior such as a watch, mirror, chandelier, liquor cabinet, vases, TVs …to small things including a set of teapot, dishes, cups… are still intact.

Huynh Thuy Le ancient house

L’Amant (The Lover)

Huỳnh Thủy Lê ancient house is associated with the famous novel L’Amant and a film of the same name, describe the true love of Mr.Lê with the French writer Marguerite Duras. Due to misalliance and cultural differences between the East and the West, Mr.Thuận (father of Mr. Lê) did not allow them to get married. The relationship broke up after 18 months. And this love later became a memoir for her to write the famous novel “L’Amant” that won the 1984 Prix Goncourt (France’s most prestigious literary award). 

The lover

The novel has been translated into 43 difference languages ​​and adapted into a movie directed by Jean Jacques Annaud and released in 1992. Some scenes were shot in Saigon, Can Tho, Sa Dec but not in this house. The film crew had to borrow the Bình Thủy ancient house in Can Tho for the setting.

Useful information

Source: collected by An

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