From Ho Chi Minh’s fictional Diary:

23 November 1906
Hue City, Vietnam

A neighbor, Aunt Lan, has been selected to sing in the Emperor’s choir so Khiem and I paddled over to find out if we could hear her sing. My father said to go cautiously in case the French soldiers are on watch and, if they are, to ask permission to land. There were some soldiers, but they were gambling so we managed to get quite near the palace. There were a lot of our own people as well as the French. But it was a Vietnamese official who angrily chased us away before Aunt Lan appeared. Then, when we ran to the riverbank, one of the French soldiers saw us and actually fired two shots. They were all laughing like drunks. Luckily, the rifle shots were poorly aimed, and we rowed off. But Tan Thiet was fuming. Firing on us for simply looking!

I remember passing a group of villagers leaving for the Cua Rao Road project back home in Kim Lien. Because many of them would not return alive, the remaining villagers were singing laments. Now, I’m beginning to see the Freach treat our people here with the same viciousness

In 1906, Ho went to study in a secondary school in Hue City, halfway down the coast of Vietnam, long the capital of royal dynasties. Aligned with the French hierarchy and protected by its military, the Vietnamese Emperor was installed in his palace with imposing pomp but no real power.

The Hue National School, founded by Emperor Thanh Thai in 1896, was the first school to teach French culture and western science in Vietnam. Most of the teachers were Vietnamese Confucian scholars. In 1905, Paul Bert, then French governor-general of Indochina, ordered educational reform to check Phan Boi Chau’s “Go East” (to Japan for education) Nationalist Movement. The National School subsequently accepted talentedsons of lower-level mandarins, including Ho and his brother.
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